Takeaways from COP26

From November 1-12, 2021, global leaders gathered in Glasgow, Scotland, for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26). The conference concluded with 197 countries agreeing to the Glasgow Climate Pact – an historic recognition of nature’s importance in combatting climate change. As the international community works to meet the urgency of the climate crisis, the role of local communities and organizations like Rare – who live and work at the intersection of people and nature – is more important than ever.

Rare brought a unique perspective to COP26 – combining policy expertise with practical, on-the-ground experience partnering with local communities and working directly with farmers and fishers on the frontlines of climate change. Rare co-organized and spoke at more than 10 events throughout COP26 and used the opportunity to elevate the importance of local to global action. Here are Rare’s top takeaways from COP26 and what comes next.

1: COP26 was groundbreaking for integrating nature into climate action.

Nature was prominently featured throughout the COP26 conference, as well as the final agreement. The Glasgow Climate Pact acknowledges that conserving, protecting, and sustainably managing terrestrial and marine ecosystems should be enhanced given the important role they play in mitigating carbon emissions and in helping communities adapt to climate change impacts.

 Rare at COP26
  • Co-hosted an event with Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries to discuss strategies for promoting Ecosystem-based Adaptation – improving biodiversity to help people adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change.
  • Co-hosted an event with the Global Island Partnership to highlight bright spots in the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources for vulnerable island states.
  • Joined the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in hosting an event to explore how nature-based and behavioral solutions, in combination with technology, can help smallholder farmers adopt climate friendly practices.
Looking Ahead

Through both our Fish Forever program, and our Lands for Life program, Rare is on the forefront of promoting nature-based solutions to climate change. With growing recognition of the valuable role nature plays in combatting climate change, Rare will continue to lead the field in embracing behavior-centered approaches that make it easier for fishers, farmers, and other resource users to adopt practices that reduce their impact on nature.

2: Ocean-Climate Policy is Recognizing the Link Between Sustainable Fisheries Management and Climate Change Adaptation.

The Glasgow Climate Pact establishes an annual dialogue to strengthen ocean-based climate action, an outcome we advocated for along with partners like IUCN, Ocean Conservancy, and ocean-championing governments. This annual dialogue will inform future UNFCCC actions, encourage ambitious commitments by countries for ocean and coastal resilience, and drive new investments on ocean-climate action.

Rare at COP26
  • Rare’s Vice President of Global Development Ariane Steins-Meier spoke at a high-level roundtable on sustainable ocean management on Ocean Action Day.
  • Co-hosted an official side event on mobilizing ocean climate action with high-level figures from Fiji, the United States, Chile, and Sweden. They were joined by Maria Liza Resurreccion, Mayor of Pilar, Philippines and member of the Coastal 500 global network of local leaders, and a Rare local partner from Palau.
  • Rare and the IUCN co-hosted an event to discuss how oceans should be integrated in the Global Stocktake – the process for assessing implementation of the Paris Climate Agreement.
Looking Ahead

The annual dialogue provides Rare more opportunities to link the empowerment of local governments and coastal communities with healthier oceans and their role in curbing climate change. It also provides the foundation for ocean-climate action across all levels of government, and recognizes the role of coastal communities and small-scale fishers as responsible stewards of their own natural resources.

3: Local voices were heard…and it’s just the beginning.

Rare’s goal at COP26 was to elevate the voices of local leaders and spotlight locally-led solutions in addressing climate change. Before, during, and after the COP, calls continued for more local and indigenous representation across all global issues ranging from climate change, biodiversity, and sustainable development. Rare has consistently worked to build momentum for elevating local voices.

Rare at COP26
  • Leaders from the Coastal 500, the global network of mayors and other local leaders of coastal communities, which Rare helped establish, were visible at the COP and gave inspiring, first-hand accounts of the importance of local action in addressing climate change.
  • We worked closely with the Indonesian government to host an event on climate adaptation and economic resilience, which brought in local voices as well as global funders like Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Green Climate Fund.
Looking Ahead

Rare will continue to elevate and amplify local leaders, particularly by helping to expand the Coastal 500. The growing global network will be an essential voice as we begin the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture, and set the stage for an important year for ambition and action.

Meanwhile, our Lands for Life program, with its behavior-centered approach to helping smallholder farmers shift toward climate-friendly, regenerative agricultural practices, will continue to engage local leaders and providing a blueprint for turning community action into cumulative impact.

4: Individuals can play a meaningful role in reducing emissions

The Glasgow Climate Pact did not go far enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but the goal of the Paris Agreement – limiting warming to 1.5 degrees C – is still possible alive. While more ambitious action by national governments is needed, individuals and communities can play a meaningful role. The adoption of key behaviors around food, transportation, land use, and energy use by consumers in wealthier nations can help shift social norms and grease the wheels for the systemic change needed to truly stop the crisis.  

Rare at COP26
  • Rare’s Sam Gray and our partners with the SWITCH-Asia shared insights from our Pride on our Plates project to reduce food waste in restaurants in China. 
  • At an event hosted by the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Kevin Green of Rare’s Center for Behavior & the Environment shared how Behavior-Centered Design can shift the agricultural sector to more sustainable practices.  
Looking ahead

As more people want to take personal action on climate change, countries, corporations, and communities will look for ways to engage citizens and consumers on climate action, and turn individual action into cumulative impact. Rare’s Make It Personal program will continue to meet people where they are with climate-friendly behaviors, while Rare’s BE.Center will offer new research and insights into what works best in reducing barriers to the adoption of these behaviors. Local leaders and coastal community members also have the opportunity to be change-makers by demonstrating how shifting toward sustainable natural resource management practices are good for their families, food security and climate resilience.



Column: The IPCC Report, COP26, and the Ocean in Between

Ahead of COP26, Rare President and CEO Brett Jenks offered three keys to to protecting communities and natural habitats, specifically by protecting and restoring ecosystems.

Video: Fishing for Resilience

In this short film, we meet local fishers in the Asia Pacific region who face the challenges of climate change but are working to help build their communities’ resilience to it.

Letter: Tackling climate change by empowering local leadership

In a letter to world leaders attending COP26, Rocky Sanchez Tirona, Managing Director of Rare’s Fish Forever program, highlights how empowering local leaders to build the resilience of coastal communities is a powerful force for ocean conservation.

Podcast: The Global Safety Podcast: Sustainable Future - Climate Change, Coastal Communities and COP 26

Rocky Sanchez Tirona joined The Global Safety podcast from Lloyd’s Register Foundation to discuss the impact of climate change on coastal communities and the need to build their resilience.

BLOG: EU SWITCH-Asia Pride On Our Plates China joins the conversation at COP26

Food waste accounts for 10% of global GHG emissions. At #COP26, Rare’s Sam Gray and our EU Switch Asia partners shared insights from our Pride on our Plates project to reduce food waste in China’s restaurants.


Rare at UNFCCC COP26 

During COP26, Rare took part in the following events:  

Carbon Neutrality for Cities and Communities
Date: 2nd of November 2021; 09:40AM – 10:40AM GMT
Venue: China Corporate Pavilion, Hall 4 Blue Zone (hybrid)
Host: C Team and Vanke Foundation
Description: Waste management is an important starting point for carbon reduction. To face the fundamental problem of overconsumption, the event will explore how behavior change on producer and consumer level can contribute to the transformation of current food and waste systems.

14th Nairobi Work Programme (NWP) Focal Point Forum on biodiversity and climate change adaptation
Date: 3rd of November, 2021; 06:20PM – 08:30PM GMT
Venue: COP26 venue, Blue Zone (Weblink)
Host: UNFCCC Mandated Event
Description: The NWP 14th Focal Point forum contributes to success at COP26 by enhancing adaptation ambition and implementation through: Sharing knowledge about: 1) oceans, coastal areas and ecosystems; and 2) forests and grasslands in building resilience of countries in supporting the implementation of the Paris Agreement; Creating synergies by aligning the work of the collaborative actions under the NWP with national priorities (e.g. NAP, NDC), like the development of a NAP Technical Supplement on Considerations for High Quality Nature-based Solutions Proposals to the GCF; Catalyzing new partnerships among national experts, and UNFCCC national focal points and NWP partners to address national priorities and close adaptation knowledge gaps in biodiversity and climate change adaptation.

Using Nature-Based Solutions for Adapting to Climate Change and Building Economic Resilience based on the Blue Economy Principle
Date: 5th of November, 2021; 06:20AM – 07:50AM GMT
Venue: Pavilion Indonesia-Manggala Wanabakti, Jakarta, Zoom Conference and Live Youtube KKP 
Host: MMAF, Wetlands International, DJPRL, Rare, others
Description: Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) is a Nature-based Solution (NbS) focused on adaptation to climate change that leverages improvements in biodiversity to help people adapt the adverse impacts of climate change. The event will identify and discuss transferable strategies, methods and best practices in coastal areas.

Ocean Action Day: Roundtable on inclusive ocean management for Sustainability
Date: 5th of November 2021; 14:30-17:15 GMT
Venue: COP26 venue, Blue Zone – Action Room 1, Webcast
Host: Marrakesh Partnership, High-Level Climate Champions
Description: Oceans face major challenges facing humanity today climate change, biodiversity loss, energy transition, food security and health issues. As part of the ocean action day, this moderated discussion will showcase innovative and concrete solutions for ocean climate action.

Mobilizing ocean-climate action at all levels for increase climate ambition
Date: 6th of November 2021; 11:30AM – 12:45PM GMT
Venue: COP26 venue, Blue Zone, Lomond Auditorium and Streaming
Hosts: Rare, Government of Fiji, IPBC
Description: Healthy oceans and coastal areas are a critical part of the climate solution. COP26 presents an opportunity to mobilize ocean-climate ambition at all levels: locally to globally. The event will share solutions for mitigation and adaptation action, including international partnership to meet the potential of blue carbon ecosystems to mitigate climate change and contribute to sustainable livelihoods.

Fostering Island-led local Action into Global Coalitions
Date: 6th of November 2021; 06:00PM GMT
Venue: COP26 venue, AOSIS Pavilion & livestream
Host: GLISPA, GEF Small Grants Programme, Rare, UNDESA
Description: Island success is built upon initiatives that work – bright spots. As part of GLISPA’s brightspot series, this event will exemplify how together we can build on what is working to conserve and sustainability utilize natural resources.

Ocean Action is Climate Action – Accelerating resilience to secure a sustainable future for coastal communities
Date: 8th of November 2021; 12:00PM – 01:30PM GMT
Venue: COP26 venue, Resilience Hub & virtual
Description: Divided in three sections, the event will discuss the latest science for understanding oceans risks, outline local solutions fostering coastal community resilience to climate change and opportunities to scale and build on those.

Ocean Climate Action and the Global Stocktake
Date: 10th of November 2021; 11:00AM – 12:30 PM GMT
Venue: COP26 venue, Nature Zone
Host: IUCN
Description: In a new report, multiple conservation organizations have analyzed the plans for the UNFCCC Global Stocktake (GST), and what it means for the ocean including how to capture ocean-related actions in all phases of the GST. In this side event the co-authors will share their findings and discuss with government representative and other stakeholders what these mean for how the world can assess global progress in meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. Specific emphasize will be given to the role of coastal and marine NbS – and what action needs to be taken from now until the GST concludes in 2023.

Behavioral Drivers to Adaptation
Date: 10th of November 2021; 04:30PM GMT (TBC)
Venue: COP26 venue, IFAD Pavilion & livestream
Host: IFAD
Description: As part of this hybrid event hosted by IFAD, Kevin Green, Rare’s Vice President for the Center for Behavior and the Environment will explore and discuss how behavior-centered design approaches can support the sustainable adoption of adaptation measures.

Empowering Communities and smallholder farmers for local action with global impacts
Date: 11th of November 2021; 11:00AM – 12:30PM GMT
Venue: Nature for Climate Zone & livestream
Host: IUCN, Rare
Description: Smallholder farmers around the world play a critical role in delivering and sustaining nature-based climate solutions. The event will explore how nature-based and behavior-centered solutions, in combination with technology, in small-scale farming that enable international and national commitments at scale.

We were also at: 

FEBA Reception: Success of NbS for Adaptation
Where: COP26 venue, Nature Zone
When: 8th of November 7PM GMT 

IKI networking Event
Where: Double Tree by Hilton, Glasgow (invitation only)
When: 8th of November, 7PM GMT

For more information contact:

Lisa Schindler Murray at lschindlermurray@rare.org, Frederik Stapke at fstapke@rare.org.