by Belinda Breeze

Announcing Critical Insights from Annual Climate Law and Governance Day, hosted with the University of Cambridge and The University of Dubai alongside COP28

Middlesex University Dubai recently hosted the 2023 Climate Law and Governance Day (CLGD 2023) on December 5th alongside the UNFCCC COP28. This day-long conference, held at Middlesex University Dubai’s Knowledge Park Campus and virtually broadcast worldwide, underscored the vital role of climate law and governance in addressing climate change challenges.

In partnership with the Climate Law and Governance Initiative (CLGI), University of Cambridge, and University of Dubai, alongside esteemed CLGI partners, CLGD 2023 marked a pivotal moment for global collaboration on climate law and governance. Themed ‘Engaging in Global Stocktake through Legal Lenses,’ the symposium brought together over 1,700 students, attendees, and partners with COP28 delegates and leading international climate law and governance experts.

The event’s four key points of focus included: (i) operationalising the Paris Agreement in international law, (ii) testing legal and governance tools for high-ambition implementation, (iii) advancing climate resilience and justice, and (iv) developing net-zero legal frameworks to enable climate-neutral investment and finance.

Professor Marie-Claire Cordonnier Segger, Executive Secretary of CLGI and Visiting Chair, University of Cambridge said: “During this Climate Law and Governance Day, we are expanding on and creating new partnerships, and sharing knowledge in order to galvanise and harness the power of law for the global response of climate change. Every single one of the 16 substantive sessions at CLGD were co-hosted by incredible organisations who are world leaders in their areas. The event as always had a diverse and rich agenda which allows leaders of different organisations who are in Dubai for COP 28 to come together to share their solutions.

Right now we don’t have the capacity to implement the Paris Agreement. We barely have the capacity to comply with it. And so as much as possible, Climate Law and Governance Day is about implementation and about compliance. It’s about finding ways to be able to connect to the people who have the expertise in this emerging area with law students, law professors, and practitioners who are willing to consider developing specialisations to help their countries and the world reach our climate change goals.”

Distinguished speakers at CLGD 2023 included UN Special Rapporteurs Prof. David Boyd (Special Rapporteur on human rights and the Environment) and Prof. Ian Fry(Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change). Their keynote interventions explored climate law through a human rights lens, shedding light on the impact of climate change to human rights.

The distinguished delegates further explored recent and upcoming judicial developments from international courts and how to amplify the voices of those most affected by climate change, including aboriginal communities and small states. The event also delved into the crucial topic of cultural change, seeking authentic and meaningful shifts in societal perspectives.

Recognising the pivotal role of legal education, discussions encompassed the development and training of climate-conscious and climate-competent lawyers. Insights from law societies, bar associations, the International Bar Association, the International Law Association, and the Association of Corporate Counsels MENA were shared to foster a new generation of legal professionals equipped to address climate challenges.

A significant theme of the conference revolved around the role of financial institutions in upholding commitments to the Paris Agreement. Leaders from multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Asian Development Bank, provided insights into green economy transition, regulatory reforms, and debt relief provisions for countries impacted by climate change.

The Conference also highlighted the importance of nature-based solutions and indigenous knowledge in addressing ecological disasters and climate change. Greenwashing litigation and strategies for scaling up climate technology through law were among the key topics discussed.

To close off a successful day, the CLGD organisers announced the winners of the 2023 Global Climate Law and Governance Leadership Awards, alongside the winners of the student essay competition. MDX students played an active role as rapporteurs and moderators, with over 60 Middlesex University Dubai students contributing to the final report by the Climate Law and Governance Initiative. Importantly, students from various disciplines showcased their sustainability-related research projects and campaigns to conference delegates.

The focus of sustainability was holistic, with the lanyards worn by all delegates being hand crafted by Fashion Department students using recycled tablecloths, reflecting Middlesex University Dubai’s commitment to environmental responsibility.

Professor Cedwyn Fernandes, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Middlesex University and Director of Middlesex University Dubai said: “The outcomes from the discussions on our campus today will carry significant weight in shaping future decisions on the climate crisis. It is our responsibility as a leading university to contribute not only on behalf of our students but also for the betterment of our community and the general global landscape. Being part of this crucial conversation is an honour that underscores our commitment as a university to addressing the pressing challenges of environmental sustainability. The day may be over, but we will continue strong in our mission to align our objectives with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the greater good.”

As the conference concluded, the knowledge shared and collaborations forged at CLGD 2023 are set to inspire continued action, reinforcing Middlesex University Dubai’s dedication to addressing climate change challenges on a global scale.

For more information about CLGD 2023 and the CLGI, please visit climatelawgovernance.org.

For more information about Middlesex University Dubai, please visit mdx.ac.ae.