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Talanoa Dialogue: Jump-Starting Climate Action in 2018

This year opens a new phase for the Paris Agreement and a historic opportunity to jumpstart action to limit the most dangerous impacts of climate change and set the world on course to a carbon-neutral, sustainable future by 2050.

With the official launch of the 2018 Talanoa Dialogue in January, countries are now embarking on the first global assessment of collective efforts to achieve the Paris goals. Global stocktakes are a core part of the regular five-year cycles built into the Agreement to ramp up ambition and action.

Talanoa is a traditional Pacific island term that describes a conversational sharing of ideas and experience that leads to decision-making for the greater good. As envisioned in the recent United Nations climate negotiations led by Fiji, the Talanoa Dialogue aims to build trust and boost ambition, ultimately leading to a commitment by governments to strengthen their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020 and work with stakeholders at home to identify the best ways forward.

Led jointly by Fiji and Poland, which will preside over this year’s negotiations, the Dialogue will include a preparatory phase and a high-level political phase. The Dialogue will seek to answer three central questions about climate action:

  • Where are we?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • How do we get there?

A key focus of the conversation will also be the findings of a special report prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the leading international body of scientists reviewing research on global warming, expected in October. It will address the impacts of global temperature rise of 1.5 degrees C (2.7 degrees F) above pre-industrial levels and will identify potential pathways to limit warming to that level.

Talanoa Open to All

Unlike most formal processes in UN climate talks, the Talanoa Dialogue isn’t limited to discussion among national governments. A range of non-state actors – cities, states and regions, businesses, civil society groups and international institutions -- are playing key roles in building climate action. During the Talanoa process, they will have an opportunity to highlight the powerful synergies between their actions and countries’ ambition.

The roadmap for the Dialogue adopted in 2017 opens the door to meaningful participation from these voices. A new online portal is “the central point for everyone to make their views heard around enhanced ambition,” according to Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)the UN’s top climate change official. Analysis and policy recommendations from interested non-state actors responding to at least one of the three central questions can be submitted by April 2 to inform the UN climate negotiations in May or by October 29 for the high-level political segment during COP24 in Katowice, Poland.

A wide array of events over the course of 2018, such as the Global Climate Action Summit in California in September, can be held “in support of” the Dialogue and play an important role in creating momentum and galvanizing stronger action. International institutions, for instance the World Health Organization and the International Solar Alliance, and regional organizations can also hold sessions feeding into the Talanoa process.

Kicking Off a Virtuous Cycle

By elevating a wide range of voices for greater climate action, the Talanoa Dialogue is essential to creating a virtuous cycle in which strong national commitments enable and promote greater action by business, cities and states, which in turn helps drive greater momentum at national and international levels. If 2017 was the year when the world reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris Agreement, 2018 is the year that must start turning those words into action. The window of opportunity is short. We must go further and faster, by stepping up together to make the vision of Paris a reality.

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