COP27: Overview of the Headlines

22nd November 2022

Over the last two weeks, we watched COP27 take place in Sharm El-Sheik as world leaders, delegates, spokespeople and sponsors gathered to address, understand and overcome the climate crisis. As seen in previous COPs, the negotiations lasted longer than scheduled, with deliberations on loss and damage reparations taking centre stage. By hosting COP27 in Egypt, much needed attention was brought towards the African continent, spotlighting the call for a loss and damage agreement - a focus that has emerged also due to the increasingly loud grassroot and civil society voices from grassroot and civil society from more vulnerable, underrepresented groups and Global South nations.  Also notable was the summit’s embeddedness into the heightened sense of global distress, led by current geopolitical scenarios including the War in Ukraine, as these such circumstances could shape the future of multilateralism in climate negotiations.

Depending on which aspect of the summit you zoomed into, it maybe that your primary experience of COP27 was very different to that of someone else, and despite many headlines suggesting ‘history was made’, the verbal responses to COP27 are mixed. Many have even regarding the immediate outcomes, in comparison to the Paris Agreement and COP26 Glasgow Climate Pact, as a failure, due to the relatively cautious and unambitious use of language in the final agreement. However, could it be argued that the understanding of climate justice now stronger, due to the new loss and damage fund?

Negotiating on the floor was a group of 134 African, Asian and Latin American states and small island nations, who presented a united front to push through the controversial fund; this was the core demand of developing countries throughout COP27. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated, “This COP has taken an important step towards justice. I welcome the decision to establish a loss and damage fund and to operationalize it in the coming period.” He also remarked that “Solidarity that respects all human rights and guarantees a safe space for environmental defenders and all actors in society to contribute to our climate response. Let’s not forget that the war on nature is in itself a massive violation of human rights.” His words speaks to the immediate need to use restorative loss and damage agreements to deliver tangible climate justice outcomes, as well as existing as a push for more inclusivity whereby all forms of understanding and experience are respected, listened and integrated into agreements. The loss and damage fund is due to differ from other UN-backed climate funds, as finances will be sourced from a greater range of places, including development banks and newer sources such as the taxes on fossil fuels or airlines. Traditional donor governments, including European Union (EU) members and the United States, insisted on this as a condition for supporting the fund.

What did COP27 mean for education?

Building and reflecting on the positives, COP27 has been a site of firsts that have helped keep the goal of 1.5C alive. For instance, this summit included the inaugural Children and Youth Pavilion that hosted its own events, with many young international delegates involved.

What lies ahead is reasonably unknown, but education is increasingly being seen as a key part of the response to the climate. We have been informed that an Education Day may emerge for COP28, in Dubai, wherein negotiations would focus on the role of education both as a knowledge resource and as a tool for change. COP26 was the start of this journey in inviting education ministers, and we have seen it continue into COP27. As an organisation that guides tertiary education towards a more sustainable future, the EAUC proudly provides the means to learn, teach and collaborate to achieve the highest standards of sustainability and environmental governance.

Of our numerous projects and in light of COP27, we recommend that your institution joins the SDG Accord and the Race to Zero for Universities and Colleges, as each provide a commitment to delivering best practice, supported by expert guidance and knowledge sharing on an international scale. The signatories of the Race to Zero for Universities and Colleges were highlighted throughout COP27 by the UNFCCC Climate Champions Team; so, by demonstrating your commitment today, your institution sets a greater example to the sector and to other key players who should be striving to achieve more for the planet. In addition to these campaigns, The UN Secretary General’s Transforming Education Summit has confirmed the need to transform education to respond to the climate crisis -  using the depth of insight in Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), a new Greening Education Partnership now exists. This will deliver ‘strong, coordinated and comprehensive action that will prepare every learner to acquire the knowledge, skills, values, and attitudes to tackle climate change and to promote sustainable development’. We are extremely pleased to see this step be made, improving the resilience of education systems worldwide.

December will see the 15th UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15), taking place in Montreal, Canada. This will convene governments from around the world to agree to a new set of goals for nature over the next decade through the Convention on Biological Diversity post-2020 framework process and will also look at the implementation of the protocols of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). We are delighted that the Nature Positive Universities Network will be formally launched here with its founding signatories, to highlight the role of higher education in environmental governance. This Network is a global group of universities prioritising nature restoration and setting ambitious targets for biodiversity. Universities have until 1st December to sign their names.

Sources and other information

Decisions taken at the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Conference - Advance unedited versions (UN)

Children and Youth Pavilion

Nature Positive Universities


COP27 closes with deal on loss and damage: ‘A step towards justice’, says UN chief (UN News)

COP27: Lack of women at negotiations raises concern (BBC)

What is 'loss and damage' and how is it informed by climate science? (New Scientist)

COP27 Reaches Breakthrough Agreement on New “Loss and Damage” Fund for Vulnerable Countries (UUN Climate Change)

Preparations for the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework (CBD)

Analysis: COP27 loss and damage fund heralds 'new dawn for climate justice' (Reuters)

Climate change: Five key takeaways from COP27 (BBC)

COP27 recap: Nine of the biggest stories from this year’s UN climate conference (Edie)

COP27 summit strikes deal to fund climate damages, leaves EU disappointed (Euractive)

3 things you may have missed at the UN climate talks (Conservation International)
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