Taking place at Expo City Dubai from 30 November to 12 December, COP28 UAE will focus on fast-tracking a just, orderly and equitable energy transition; fixing climate finance; putting nature, lives and livelihoods at the heart of climate action; and mobilizing for the most inclusive COP.

The COP28 UAE Presidency has announced an ambitious and inclusive two-week thematic program for the conference to deliver on four key goals alongside the negotiations process and as part of the critical Global Stocktake response.

COP28 UAE will take place at Expo City Dubai from November 30-December 12, 2023.

The Conference is expected to convene over 70,000 participants, including heads of state, government officials, international industry leaders, private sector representatives, academics, experts, youth, and non-state actors, said a media release. 

Designed to drive action and implement policy, finance, and technology solutions across these priorities, the innovative two-week thematic program was developed in consultation with stakeholders including civil society, NGOs, youth, and Indigenous Peoples. A six-week open consultation on the thematic areas and sequencing was held in which stakeholders were invited to submit feedback – the first such approach taken by a COP Presidency.

Kicking off with a two-day World Climate Action Summit, during which the first-ever Global Stocktake response will be presented to world leaders with the COP Presidency seeking commitments and accountability, the program also features new individual thematic days that respond to global challenges.

For the first time at a COP forum, COP28 will dedicate a day to Health, Relief, Recovery, and Peace, with a high level climate health ministerial, among other thematic activities.

COP28 will also be the first to focus on the role of trade in tandem with finance and it will be the COP that brings leaders together from across all levels of government and society – from the local mayors to global leaders– to work towards cleaner, greener, safer cities for current and future generations.

All thematic days throughout the two weeks will be underpinned with an inclusive approach that prioritizes frontline communities and focuses on how finance, technology and innovation can drive solutions.

More detailed information about each thematic day will be released in the weeks and months ahead, as the COP28 Presidency continues to ramp up preparations for this year’s meeting at Expo City Dubai.

Read: COP28 President-designate calls on international community to deliver on climate finance

Below are the key themes and events for each day:

• 30 November: COP28 UAE opens to the world at Expo City, Dubai.

• 1-2 December: World Climate Action Summit – These two days will see heads of state and world leaders come together to tackle the most pressing climate issues in dialogue with leaders from civil society, business, youth, Indigenous Peoples’ organizations and others. Typically, the summit helps to firm up the ambition for the remainder of the COP. For COP28, it will go further; it is where the first-ever Global Stocktake response and the urgency of the situation faced will be presented, and the COP Presidency will seek accountability from the highest levels of global governance on a way forward.

• 3 December: Health/Relief, Recovery, and Peace – Climate change is already impacting human health across the planet, from the quality of the air we breathe to the water we drink and the places that provide us with shelter. It is also a major cause for displacement of vulnerable communities, leading to increased fragility which can compromise peace. This day, a first for COPs, will explore ways to provide relief to those affected while strengthening resilience and recovery leading to increased stability.

• 4 December: Finance/Trade/Gender Equality/Accountability – Neither global financial systems that control and impact access and affordability of climate finance nor international trade networks, are working effectively and equitably. It is widely acknowledged that leaders of the global institutions and countries that govern these systems must accelerate and be accountable for an overhaul. An example of this is freeing up access to international finance and trade to support the implementation of adaptation and mitigation solutions without restrictions such as high interest rates that the poorest countries cannot afford. This is necessary to create fairer and more equal conditions for the world – and especially the most climate vulnerable countries from the Global South – to meet collective climate targets. This day will focus on moving this work forward while championing the importance of gender equality across the full climate spectrum.

•5 December: Energy and Industry / Just Transition / Indigenous Peoples – The world needs to decarbonize rapidly while continuing to progress economically. It is critical that this development happens sustainably and inclusively to support lives and livelihoods while protecting the planet. This day will focus on how the world can accelerate the energy transition while ensuring it is just. The energy needed for day-to-day life must remain affordable but become cleaner, and jobs must be retained but expand as green technologies emerge and provide increased and equitable access to opportunities. The day will look at the broad spectrum of solutions from deploying renewable energy at scale and how hydrogen can support this, to decarbonizing the energy of today through carbon capture technologies and rapidly reducing methane emissions from oil and gas. It will also focus on heavy-emitting industry including steel, cement, and aluminium. Indigenous Peoples are stewards of 80% of our planet’s biodiversity and Indigenous Peoples Day will recognize the importance of their intergenerational knowledge, practices, and leadership in climate action. The day will also strengthen their role in the just transition, reinforcing the urgency of a fully inclusive, all-of-society approach.

Read: COP28 UAE Presidency: Leading economists set out crucial next steps to reform int’l climate financing 

•6 December: Multilevel Action, Urbanization, and Built Environment/Transport – It is not often that leaders representing all levels of governance, from the local to the global, come together. This day will provide a rare opportunity for mayors and governors, ministers and parliamentarians, and global business and civil society leaders to work together to accelerate climate action solutions across society in every form. This will include exploring how greener urban mobility systems can be designed to withstand and adapt to climate change while supporting the transition to low carbon built environments and infrastructure, and redesigning our systems of production and consumption to minimize waste. In addition, this day will showcase how all of these solutions contribute to safer, healthier and greener cities for current and future generations.

• December: Rest Day

• 8 December: Youth, Children, Education, and Skills – Children and youth are facing disproportionate risks and impacts from climate change as the generation who will inherit a planet with tougher conditions in which to live and prosper but which was not responsible for contributing to the problem. This day seeks to empower children and youth to shape the outcomes of COP28 and beyond and provide them with clear, defined, accessible opportunities to be a leading part of the solutions proposed at every level.

• 9 December: Nature, Land Use, and Oceans – Our world’s climate and its biodiversity are inextricably interconnected, one cannot exist without the other. Mitigating both crises must therefore be integrated. In a landmark win for nature, a 30 x 30 biodiversity goal was adopted by world leaders at the CBD COP15 – to protect at least 30 percent of the planet’s land and water by 2030. Contributing to the goal, this day will focus on delivering climate and nature co-benefits. This includes co-designing approaches to land use and oceans conservation with local and Indigenous Peoples to protect and manage biodiversity hotspots and natural carbon sinks.

• 10 December: Food, Agriculture, and Water – Climate change is creating severe pressure and risks for the food, agricultural and water systems that ensure human wellbeing. At the same time, these systems are also key contributors to climate change: one third of all human-made GHG emissions derive from agri-food systems, and 70% of fresh water consumed worldwide is used for agricultural production. This day will focus on how to fix this, from scaling up regenerative agriculture and water-food systems that support habitat restoration and conservation and increase food security, to implementing stronger, fairer integrated governance between states and corporations, farmers and producers. 

Read more: COP28 UAE Presidency: Leading economists to drive progress on int’l finance reforms

• 11-12 December: Final Negotiations – On the final two days of COP28, there will be no thematic days to avoid extensive programming when the negotiation text is often being closed.

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