Having a pass to the COP26 Blue Zone, where representatives from nations, International Governmental Organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations were making statements, negotiating and collaborating was a unique experience. To be there representing the British Society of Soil Science (and also the International Union of Soil Sciences) and Arcadis was a privilege. I got to meet and listen to ministers, advisors, scientists and representatives of those communities at the very sharp end of the current and future effects of climate change. And the message was absolutely clear; we need to act now.
COP26 has been referred to as the ‘Business COP’. Commitments made in Paris have been re-appraised in light of the new scientific data and models, and governments around the world now need to come together to set in place their own, but collective, measures to keep us within the 1.5°C temperature rise. But governments themselves won’t deliver these; we as consultants have a role here but we can only be successful if we work with our clients to engage businesses, communities, data holders / analysts, financial institutions, activists etc. in relationships based on trust, transparency and accountability. We need to be open to the opportunities and possibilities, strive to deliver on the ambition and truly engage with all. And our efforts need to drive to equitable solutions.
I had the privilege to be invited to join a panel at the She Changes Climate day whilst I was in Glasgow to discuss the role of food, agriculture and women. This was a fantastic event but absolutely highlighted the inescapable truth that we must have equal representation and true diversity in all negotiations around the climate and biodiversity emergency. And we also must have equal representation in, and ownership of, the implementation of the solutions on the ground.
I left Glasgow exhausted (long days and an emotional rollercoaster) but invigorated by the engagement and drive shown by so many (including those who filled the streets outside the COP26 venue) to achieve what is needed to secure our long-term sustainable future.
Time to get back to work!