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Taking action in COP26, Glasgow

Stephany Mazon, INAR – University of Helsinki, participated in COP261 (01-07 Nov. 2021, Glasgow, UK) in the capacity of (a) panel event co-organizer and (b) Observer. She shares her first experience in a COP.

I co-organized a panel discussion (see details at the end of document) on co-designing carbon-smart solutions in cities with examples from Helsinki, Lahti, Oslo, and Stockholm. Prof. Leena Järvi (University of Helsinki / ACCC / ICOS) presented the research project CO-CARBON, which seeks practical solutions on how carbon-smartness of urban green areas can be enhanced.

Panelists (left to right): Jouni Keronen (CEO, CLC; remote), Mayor of Lahti, Mayor of Stokholm, Mayor of Oslo, Prof. Leena Järvi, moderator Mark Isitt.
Stephany Mazon (INAR- UH), panel organiser and Observer at COP26.

The panel was represented by government, science, and business sectors in our attempt to truly push forward a discussion on the opportunities and challenges for these sectors to co-design. The outcome from organizing the event highlighted the common ground but also the difference in priorities and working styles of the different stakeholders. The panel offered an example of how high-level events, such as COPs, which gather global decision-makers and multi-sectorial experts under one roof, should offer a stage for multi-stakeholder dialogue. In turn, it reiterates the need to strengthen the practice of co-design and the use of a common language to make the dialogue efficient and effective. My conclusion is therefore that research and data organizations both benefit from and provide a service by attending events like COP, not only as observers, but by stepping-up on to the stage.

Specifically, our panelist Prof. Leena Järvi concluded her participation was useful to her as Work Package leader for ICOS Cities PAUL project.

On the other hand, my participation as Observer gave me access to discussions on pressing scientific topics aimed to reach policy-makers, such as the need to upscale ocean observation capacity and to enhance planetary health holistic action. Countries presented examples of how observation systems are being used, for example, in their adaptation proposals, NDCs and funds allocation. At the same, I could hear about and engage with climate fields in finance and policy sectors that reveal to us more ways in which science and data can be used to service those sectors. To name a specific example, I was introduced to nature-based solutions as ways to (i) develop or (re)construct cities, and (ii) as possible economic assets.

My initial experience to apply for a stand-alone official side event did highlight the rather cumbersome process it requires: our academic institutions, government and business partners needed to put forward individual applications for the same event in an attempt to be individually selected and thereafter pooled together. However, to conclude I recommend making use of the Pavilion spaces, as we did with the Nordic Pavilion (hosted by Norden, the Nordic Council of Ministers); They secure a stand for the entire duration of the COP, take care of set up and streaming options, and the application process was a simple form. Other Pavilions have a similar procedure. Overall, COP26 Pavilion exhibition spaces hosted workshops, discussions and Q&A sessions that allow Observers in the audience to engage with the speakers.

My experience at COP26 served me to contextualize my institute’s work in climate/environmental science and earth system data and toolkits in terms of what is needed (be it physical or digital infrastructures, funding, capacitation, communication) and how they can further be used as a service, particularly when hearing the needs and knowledge from various voices outside academia, including youth and indigenous peoples.

I recommend to make use of our allocated Observer status seats and to increase the much needed active participation of scientists, not only in science-niche discussions but in co-design efforts.

Panel event

“New leadership for climate action in the cities: Networks for co-creating and constructing carbon-smart and resilient cities.”

03.November, Nordic Pavilion – Cities Day

Venue: Nordic Pavilion, COP26 Blue Zone, Glasgow; online via We Don’t Have Time platform[2].

Organizers: Atmosphere and Climate Competence Center (ACCC, University of Helsinki), City of Lahti, Kuntaliitto (Association of Finnish Municipalities)

In brief: The Nordics are developing carbon neutral construction in cities that incorporate climate actions, citizens wellbeing, thriving milieu for business, participatory governance and science-based services. The strength lies in building networks for collaboration with the cities’ multi-stakeholders. We discuss best practices, identify gaps, and showcase examples of Nordic cities.

Panelists: Mayor Pekka Timonen, City of Lahti; Governing Mayor Raymond Johansen, City of Oslo; Mayor Anna König Jerlmyr, City of Stockholm; Prof. Leena Järvi, University of Helsinki (Keynote and expert comment).

Remote keynotes: Jouni Keronen, Climate Leadership Coalition; Dr Cecil Konijnendijk, Nature Based Solutions Institute.

Youtube link:  (3,187 views as of Jan 2022)

Observer status

Access to the COP open informal and consultation Meetings, open Presidency events, the Pavilions[3], official Side Events, and the Action Hub (media) area were granted (subject to some limitations) under the Observer status. Remote (digital) access was granted through the COP26 Platform.

Example of events visited include the Science Pavilion[4] hosted by IPCC/WMO/Met Office (eg: Tracking ocean climate change and impacts on our fragile ocean; How to create markets around regenerative Nature), Health Pavilion[5] hosted by WHO (eg. Climate-smart health care; Climate change and One Health), Green Climate Fund[6] (Catalysing climate investments in developing countries in the context of COVID-19), Cryosphere Pavilion[7] (eg. Tajikistan: Snow and ice in climate change; The Changing Arctic Ocean: Impacts of Climate Change). As well as open meetings and consultations (some available on-demand[8]), such as Presidency events (eg. The power of public engagement for harnessing climate action), informal consultations on Article 6 of the Paris Agreement, and on the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform.


Stephany Mazon, email: stephany.mazon(a) | Twitter: @stephanymazon