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Poland is about to take over the torch of COP Presidency, and the Talanoa legacy is becoming increasingly unclear.

The Talanoa Dialogue is giving a voice to the unaccredited, says Jamie Williams from Islamic Relief Worldwide, an organisation that has been facilitating Talanoa Dialogues in South Sudan, Somalia, Bangladesh, Mali, Niger, Afghanistan, Tunisia and Kenya.

Climate Tracker spoke with him on the future and importance of Talanoa.

Why is it so important that stakeholders who are not present at these UN climate negotiations still get a voice? Who are they? And what kind of contribution can they make to this process?
“We need to be reminded for whom and why we are working. As we plan for funding of and support for people adapting to and building resilience against climate breakdown we need to hear what they are saying.”
“The Talanoa Dialogue has created a space for people with stakes in our numerous climate confronting projects to share their truths and their insight with Parties.  A volunteer, local staff, a person displaced for the umpteenth time by river erosion can contribute stories otherwise unheard, problems otherwise unconsidered, and solutions based on their unique knowledge and experience.”

Fiji opened the first Talanoa event during COP23 in Bonn. Picture: UN Climate change

Can you think of concrete examples – either local, regional or global – where the type of inclusive consultation expected from Talanoa has helped to deal with environmental or governmental issues?

“A great example is Bangladesh, where the consultation of self help groups of women honing livelihood opportunities in the face of extreme poverty, has influenced local authorities to improve agricultural support and reduce barriers to markets and services. We have seen similar success stories in West and East Africa.”
“The effectiveness of inclusive consultation is always measured by the extent to which authority is prepared to engage with people.”

In an ideal scenario, how do you see the Talanoa process during COP24? How would it feed into the Paris Rulebook?

“A Presidential summary of formal submissions to the UNFCCC which seeks out and emphasises the voices of those most effected.”
“I would guess that this would show that people are able to analyse their own situation, and plan and implement adaptable and sustainable responses. It will show that the best place for adaptation and resilience planning is as specific and local as possible … and the ‘national plan’ will be a consolidation and accumulation of many local plans.”

Picture by: UN climate change

Do you think the Talanoa process can have a longer lifespan? How would a Talanoa-like process look like even after the Paris Rulebook has been formed?
“I have lived and worked in Fiji, and can appreciate that the spirit of Talanoa is a great way of reconciling differences and mobilising cooperation among disparate communities.  It gives a space for gathering people and a focus for their debates.”
“The UN has recognised for years the need to bring a wider variety of voices to their deliberations on climate change.  However the rule book is formulated this need will continue, and whether as Talanoa or by another form of facilitative consultation, its success will depend on the degree that Parties are prepared to listen.”
Arthur Wyns

About Arthur Wyns

Arthur Wyns is a tropical biologist and science journalist who writes about climate change, environment and migration. He manages Programs and Partnerships for Climate Tracker since 2017. With a group of biologists he founded Lonely Creatures, an organisation that brings under attention the stories of endangered species around the world.