Discovering Canada’s environmental diplomacy during COP28
By Natacha Papieau
Disclaimer: The views are those of the author's alone and do not represent the views of UNA-Canada.
Image 1: Natacha Papieau in front of Expo 2020
My name is Natacha Papieau (she/her). I hold an Honours Bachelor of Arts in Economics with a minor in International Development from McGill University. As I am about to start a Master’s in Public and International Affairs at University de Montréal and expand my professional career in policy, I’m grateful to have participated in the International Youth Delegate Program (IYDP) and to have been exposed to the inner workings of UN meetings and negotiations related to climate change.
Thanks to IYDP, I was able to attend negotiations, talk to senior advisors and negotiators, participate in key networking events and take part in a bilateral with Canada’s Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Steven Guilbeault, and Deputy Minister Jean-François Tremblay along other youth from civil society. The insights from UN meetings as well as my discussions with Party Delegates and Observers from around the world allowed me to better understand the processes linked to negotiations and the differences between countries and blocs’ positions and strategies.
Image 2: Visiting the Old City of Dubai
Most importantly, this experience gave me hope in the UN structure. Coming from the student environmental movement, I tend to focus on the failures of governments in reaching climate targets or the insufficient support towards climate justice. Seeing the field work of negotiators and talking with them shed a new light on how I see multilateral meetings and reassured me about the stance and actions of Canada on the international scene. I’ve had the chance to witness Canada’s leadership and diplomacy on contentious issues, which facilitated consensus and safeguarded key provisions in the final text.
Being close to civil society groups during COP28 also helped me stay grounded. I was able to meet old friends from Ecolotrip, an international network of young francophone activists and environmental entrepreneurs, as well as develop new relationships with delegates from other countries. Attending the Peoples Plenary and side events by Indigenous peoples and local communities reminded me of the complementary roles between parties and civil society to push together for greater climate ambition and accountability.
Image 3: International Delegation of Ecolotrip at COP28
This experience as a Youth Delegate reinforced my desire to engage in policy and offered strategic learnings on political advocacy, diplomacy, stakeholder relations. Meeting inspiring individuals who share their knowledge and expertise with passion encourages me to keep developing myself personally and professionally to participate in shaping national and international decisions to build a more inclusive, just, climate future.