Dispatch from South Africa: The SustainUS Holiday Wish List

Kate Catlin, a native of the Seattle area, has been selected as a member of the United States Youth Delegation to the United Nations climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa from Nov. 28-Dec. 9, 2011. A junior at Gonzaga University pursuing a B.S. in Economics, Kate is currently in Nicaragua interning with Soluciones Comunitarias. She will be providing updates about her experience as a youth delegate on this blog.

Hopefully everyone reading this had a successful Turkey Day!

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade has come and gone, with Santa bringing up the rear as always. And just as many children across the globe will now sit down to write a Christmas, Hanukah or Kwanza wish list, we at SustainUS have written a wish list as well. What follows is a policy summary of what we want this December – from the member states of the United Nations and delegates to COP17.

Of course, we at SustainUS aren’t just sitting around and wishing. The majority of the group has missed Thanksgiving with our families in order to travel to South Africa early for the precluding Conference of the Youth. There YOUNGO, a united coalition of youth from around the world, will formulate a strategy to fight for what we want. If you agree with our goals and are ready to fight with us, look up a local event in your community for Global Day of Action on December 3rd or formulate your own!


  • Strong commitments with the ultimate goal of reducing emissions by 100% as soon as possible, in order to comply with Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) goals.
  • A 1.5°C review to be completed before 2015, which should address the gap between current pledges by the Parties, which set us on course for 4-6°C of warming, the political objective of 2°C, and the scientific goal of 1.5°C.
  • Greater accountability. We suggest: transforming of pledges for limiting and reducing emissions, a strong framework of measuring, reporting and verification of emissions, and an end to loop holes and double counting.
  • Kyoto protocol mechanisms should remain only supplementary to domestic action, and that emission reductions are promoting reduction technologies and financial innovation.



  • Additional finance, capacity building, and technology transfer.
  • Expansion of international cooperation to include more detailed programs and directives, such as climate risk insurance for natural disasters and funding for community-based programs.



  • Recognition of water issues as one of the most urgent fronts on climate change and that they must take a more central role in climate policy – drinking water is a fundamental human right for all.
  • Allocation of substantial funding for water resource projects to adapt to our changing climate. Much of this funding should be invested in developing countries, which face the majority of future water adaptation needs.
  • Inclusion in any COP17 agreement of specific language about water issues, including: ocean acidification, global climate variations, protection of biodiversity and food security.



  • The multiple benefits of forests (protecting carbon stocks, forest biodiversity, water regulation, etc.) should be recognized as “core benefits” rather than “co-benefits” in REDD+.
  • Aggressive promotion of programs for afforestation, reforestation and restoration of degraded lands; forestry and land-use policies which go beyond maintenance of existing carbon stocks. This could play a major role in the transition to greener economies; the contribution of investments in forests to long-term economic growth cannot be underestimated.
  • Forest financing which prioritizes building developing countries’ capacity for REDD+ mechanisms, including building effective systems for measuring, reporting and verifying greenhouse gas emissions from forests, and providing fair and equitable benefits for local and forest-dependent communities.



  • $100 billion annually through 2020 to protect vulnerable states against the adverse effects of climate change,
  • Fulfillment of prior pledges for $30 billion in fast-track funding through 2012.
  • Explicit and specific information as to where new funds will come from. Ideally, states will commit to strong public financing now, but work towards a different international agreement for the long term, such as Transportation or Financial Transaction Taxes.
  • Funds should be in grants, not loans, and should not take away from Official Development Assistance.
  • The new Green Climate Fund, which will be shaped at COP17, must be fully independent and guarantee the meaningful participation of a diversity of civil society members at all levels.

Read more on the SustainUS blog.

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Published: November 29, 2011