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MRC at #COP28 - 2nd Vice President Ahmed Shabin shares key insights

MRC at #COP28 - 2nd Vice President Ahmed Shabin shares key insights

MRC’s 2nd Vice President Ahmed Shabin accounts his experience representing Maldivian Red Crescent as part of the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) delegation at for the first time at the Conference of Parties of UNFCCC (COP) #COP28 was held in United Arab Emirates from 30th November - 12th December 2023.

Gearing up for COP28

The groundwork for #COP28 commenced months in advance, with Maldivian Red Crescent (MRC) chosen to partake in the Climate Champion workshop held in Geneva early July 2023. This workshop brought together leaders, technical volunteers, and youth as Climate Champions from 20 National Societies actively engaged in Climate Action. The workshop covered in-depth discussions around climate science and setting the scene of international dialogues and narrowing it down to country and community level activities. As change makers, the participants were also equipped with a media and engagement training.

Monthly online meetings followed, focusing on themes such as Early Warning for All, Nature-Based Solutions, #COP28 Key Messages, locally led adaptation and engagement with the Government.

MRC's 2nd Vice President participates in the Climate Champions Workshop in Geneva, July 2023

At #COP28

The IFRC COP28 delegation was 30 National Societies strong and joined by regional and Geneva office representatives. Delegates were strategically distributed between week 1 and 2 of the conference, with my personal involvement falling within Week 1. Thanks to the seamless efforts of the IFRC and Emirati Red Crescent teams, the registration, coordination, and logistical processes were smoothly managed.

Just by the sheer scale of the event, as a first timer, I believe no amount of preparation could prepare one for a COP. To say the least, the venue was huge, and the event was plentiful. Each day started off bright and early with breakfast at the hotel followed by a bus ride to the Dubai Expo City, the venue for #COP28. On the ride, a briefing was provided to all delegates on what’s in the agenda for the day, main events hosted or joined by IFRC as well as other events that maybe of interest, negotiations that are happening on the day and a quick summary of the negotiations.

The IFRC Communications team played a pivotal role, organizing delegates for media engagements and spotlighting them at the IFRC Reclaimed Table – a unique display featuring debris from climate disasters worldwide, symbolizing the urgent need for action.

The IFRC reclaimed table: A unique table comprising of debris from climate disasters from around the globe. The table included debris from Wildfires, Floods and Cyclones - and some missing pieces that symbolises the impact of rising sea levels on the small island states. The table was placed at the main venue for the COP28 negotiations, as a call for urgent action now.

Read more about the IFRC reclaimed table - here

MRC's 2nd Vice President and National Society delegates near the IFRC reclaimed table at #COP28 

This #COP28 distinguished itself with a heightened focus on humanitarian impact, particularly evident on Day 3 dedicated to the theme of Health, Relief, Recovery, and Peace.

MRC's engagement at #COP28

Representing MRC, I participated in the IFRC press conference on Day 1 and the COP Presidency's press conference on Day 3, offering insights from the Red Cross Red Crescent movement and a Small Island Developing States (SIDS) perspective. Additionally social media lives on IFRC Instagram and X space, media engagements were done on EuroNews Live and British Radio Live.

The conference also offered a very timely avenue to host a meeting at the IFRC pavilion with the Maldivian government delegation led by  Minister Thoriq Ibrahim - Minister of Climate Change, Environment and Energy and Mr. Ali Shareef – Climate Envoy. I thank the Ministry and team for accepting our invitation to the IFRC pavilion. The week unfolded with opportunities to attend several thematic events by notable speakers - such as anticipatory action and climate financing, and the Climate Smart Resilient Island initiative session hosted by the Maldivian Government.

Left: MRC's 2nd Vice President at the IFRC Press Conference, Right: Meeting with  IFRC and Maldivian government delegation, Minister Thoriq Ibrahim - Minister of Climate Change, Environment and Energy, and Mr. Ali Shareef - Special Envoy for Climate Change 

One unique and interesting aspect was the opportunity to observe the negotiations that were taking place. As the IFRC policy team was attending and closely following the negotiations, national society delegates were invited to tag along and even able to pitch key messages and points to note from the IFRC team to country negotiators. In this regard, comments were pitched to the Maldivian negotiators on the draft text of Global Stocktake. 

As I bid adieu to the team and left Dubai on the 07th of December, delegates for the Week 2 were joining the team. We stayed in touch and received live updates through the WhatsApp group as well as the daily update report sent every night. 

COP is a process, and unavoidably always mixed with varying sentiment, #COP28 was no different. While there were breakthrough achievements such as adoption of the loss and damage fund on day one and first mention of ‘fossil fuel’, the outcomes were scrutinised for their lack in impact and needed scale. The closing plenary was a testament to the struggle and constant need for scaling up the voice of small island states. Continuous effort is needed to align and scale up our humanitarian programmes, services and advocacy towards the fast-unfolding realities of the Climate Crisis.

I leave you here with a summary of key outcomes of #COP28 by IFRC - https://www.ifrc.org/press-release/cop28-urgency-action-and-funds-are-missing

View media engagements made by MRC's 2nd Vice President Ahmed Shabin below.

  • Interview with Anticipation Hub - here 
  • Interview with IFRC at the Reclaimed Table - here