As I reflect on my experience from the second week of COP27, I’m flipping through my notebook full of commentary and notes on side events, pavilions, and negotiations. This past week was one of the most riveting weeks of my academic career. It exposed me to ideas and topics that I had yet to encounter and provided a platform for voices that are traditionally not heard from in the policy sphere. The topics of events that I attended ranged from blue food systems to green hydrogen innovation to local, state, and federal partnerships in the US to JETPs to early warning system applications to translating science into community knowledge. The vast array of topics was incredible and I found myself constantly updating my schedule to fit in events that I stumbled upon while walking through Zones B and C or to attend negotiations that were announced at the last minute. Even as I’ve described events and interesting information to friends since being back, they have all commented on the excitement in my voice as I reflect on this past week. There truly is nothing like it and I feel so fortunate and privileged to have attended and been able to go from event to event.  

As I mentioned in my first blog post, the area of interest that I went into week two with was loss and damage and this was what some of the most stimulating events and negotiations were centered on. This topic was obviously hotly debated throughout COP27 and negotiators reached a conclusion only in the final hours of the conference. While I loved learning about climate mitigation and adaptation through the various lenses of the events that I attended, loss and damage really captivated me. I had the opportunity to hear from and speak with Professor Saleemul Huq, the Director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development and one of the foremost experts on loss and damage. His comments and reflections on COP27 really being COP1 for loss and damage were eye-opening and inspiring. My conversations with Nate Warszawski and Preety Bhandari from the World Resource Institute really delved me further into the complexities of loss and damage negotiations and revealed so much insight into the politics of COP27. These discussions truly made my COP27 experience. I was lucky enough to be in the room when the draft texts were agreed upon to operationalize the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage, a process that was two years in the making. It was conversations with Nate that provided me with the background to understand the process of the negotiations and the gravity of this moment.

COP27 confirmed to me that this is the work that I want to do in the future. Loss and damage is inherently complex because it reaches so many aspects of our lives but the difficulties in quantifying its effects should not cause us or negotiators to underestimate or undervalue how deeply loss and damage impacts climate-vulnerable populations. These events, the negotiations that I had the pleasure of attending, and my work with WRI really underscored the importance of this work to me. We can surely expect to see more work on loss and damage in the future and I’m looking forward to engaging in it.