NRW urges action on climate emergency as COP28 gets under way

As world leaders gather at the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai, Clare Pillman, CEO of Natural Resources Wales, underlines the urgency of acting now to tackle the nature and climate emergency. She considers how taking a Team Wales approach in doing so will be a key factor in delivering a net zero future.  

Often when world leaders gather to discuss climate change, we hear quotes from the latest reports produced by some of the world’s leading scientists, each underlining the scale of the global climate emergency and the urgent need for action.  

The headlines, always so stark, are also now all too uncomfortably familiar. 

Earlier this year, we saw the publication of the IPCC’s latest Synthesis Report - the culmination of years of work summarising the latest and most important science on climate change. It was described by the UN Chief as a "survival guide for humanity”, providing solid evidence of the causes, impacts, and potential solutions to climate change. 

We also find ourselves reflecting on climate change in action - on the harrowing pictures we see from around the world of climate-related disasters, where raging wildfires and surging floodwaters have devastated lives and forced millions to flee their homes.   

And this isn’t just an issue for other people in faraway countries.  Climate change is happening right now on our own doorsteps.  From the drought we experienced last year to the flooding and the four named storms we’ve already experienced this autumn, we are experiencing climate change in the very real sense.

This unfolding catastrophe is the very reason why urgent, transformative action is needed.

Earlier this year, we at NRW launched our corporate plan to 2030 – Nature and People Thriving Together.  

In this plan, we have set ourselves three well-being objectives that will help us navigate our course to help ensure that Wales steps up to meet the 2030 targets for climate - and for nature too - and how we will use this decisive decade as a springboard towards achieving wider international targets.  

The plan sets out how we will support action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to the Welsh Government’s ambition for a net zero Wales by 2050. It also outlines how we will accelerate action to adapt to and mitigate the risks posed by a warming planet on communities and wildlife.

It sets out a step change in how we will stimulate progress on the policy shifts needed to tackle the nature and climate emergencies. And where progress on these objectives is slowed or hampered by circumstances outside our control, we will use our voice to call for change.

It is a plan that is unapologetic in its ambition, setting out where NRW can uniquely contribute to tackling the climate challenge.  

We know that we are going to have to adapt how we work to achieve future milestones, and our plan outlines how we are going to make those changes over this decisive decade. 
But we can’t do it alone.

We must bring everyone on the journey towards tackling the climate and nature emergencies.

While world leaders discuss urgent action to tackle climate change in Dubai, closer to home, Wales Climate Week gets under way next week.

The sessions delivered as part of this week-long event will explore the theme of "fairness" in the context of climate change, where tackling and building greater resilience to climate change must be driven by the guiding principle of leaving no-one behind. 

NRW will be supporting the week when we deliver a session on Embedding Fairness into Our Delivery of Climate Adaptation Action on Tuesday (5 December).

Fairness, social justice, equality of access, fair land use, and accountability for our actions were key themes we saw emerging from the Nature and Us national conversation we hosted last year. This has led to the creation of a vision for 2050, created and inspired by people in Wales, which was released in the summer. We will share our response to that vision as part of Wales Climate Week.

Our own corporate plan also demonstrates how we are going to sharpen our focus on social and environmental justice, making sure that delivering for rural and urban communities across Wales is at the heart of everything we do.

The plan is clear about how we are best placed to make a difference within the resources we have, but also where we will need to adapt how and where we work, innovate and collaborate to bring about a change that is fair, just and ensures nobody gets left behind.

Because social justice and environmental recovery are indivisible - two sides of the same coin. We cannot tackle one without tackling the other.

But if we do address them together, we can imagine a future where nature and people genuinely thrive together in a way that is sustainable for future generations.

In this session, NRW staff consider the need for fairness and a just approach as part of our work on aspects such as flood risk management and coastal management. 

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