COP28: Accelerating collaboration on climate action

The annual United Nations Climate Conference of the Parties (COP28), held in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December, was a pivotal moment for global collaboration on climate action.  

With climate adaptation and mitigation at the core of SNV's 2030 strategy, COP28 was, for us, a platform to reinforce our collective commitment to addressing the structural causes of poverty in communities most affected by the climate crisis. In conversation, it was clear that the priority amongst our delegates, stakeholders and partners is how we can continue to contribute to sustainable and more equitable lives for all. The following are our takeaways from the conference.  


 Under this year's theme, 'UNITE. ACT. DELIVER,' COP28 marked the halfway point between the Paris Agreement and 2030. The imperative to reduce emissions by 43% by 2030 and recalibrate adaptation, finance, and loss and damage efforts underscored the urgency of global climate action. 

In response, our message at COP28 emphasised the need to accelerate financing and the implementation of climate action in water, energy, and agri-food systems for the world's most vulnerable populations.  

During the conference, we placed a strong focus on inclusive, locally-led principles and systems approaches, equity and strategic partnerships to further climate action in the areas most affected by climate change.  

Championing a just, equitable, and inclusive energy transition 

COP28 underscored the imperative of a just, equitable, and inclusive energy transition. The discussions highlighted that the commitment to leaving no one behind is non-negotiable.  

The huge elephant in the room remains that of equitable transition. In its simplest terms, that means wealthier nations, societies and individuals being prepared and willing to change their high-consumption lifestyles and habits substantially and rapidly. Only then will we enable more equitable growth and development within marginalised communities and less developed countries. The crux lies in accelerating the transference of power, leading to transformative changes in our systems.

The resounding message is unequivocal: without a commitment to justice and inclusivity, there can be no genuine energy transition. 

The culmination was seen in a milestone commitment at COP28 to "transition away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly, and equitable manner." The decision text, agreed upon by all parties, outlined plans to triple investments in renewable energy, double energy efficiency, and deliver a just transition away from fossil fuels. 

Amplifying voices on the ground 

Throughout all the sessions and discussions we were involved in at COP28, we ensured that the voices of those most affected by climate change were put in the spotlight.  

Recognising the importance of these voices extends beyond rhetoric, inspiring faster and more scalable action on the ground. It emphasises the need to empower and amplify local perspectives, acknowledging their unique insights and contributions to the global climate effort.  

As we navigate the complexities of climate action, these dual imperatives of justice within the transition and the amplification of local voices emerge as guiding principles for meaningful change. 

Sustainable agriculture = resilient food systems 

In the agri-food sector, COP28 demonstrated a positive shift, firmly placing food systems and agriculture on the UNFCCC agenda. The Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action garnered support from 158 world leaders, setting objectives for scaling up adaptation, promoting food security, and supporting sustainable approaches. 

SNV's active participation in COP28 underscored our commitment to driving impactful change in climate action. From focusing on fragile contexts and sustainable agriculture to advancing clean energy initiatives, we played a key role in shaping discussions, building on existing partnerships, and forging new ones.  

As we reflect on the outcomes of COP28, we remain steadfast in its dedication to creating a more sustainable and resilient future for communities worldwide. Ultimately, there is no declaration without action, and we must take action locally to see true change.

More from our COP28 delegates

Hear the message from SNV's Vandana Thottoli and Nam Pham, who were part of the COP28 delegation calling for urgent climate action by adopting a food systems approach and fostering collaboration for sustainability.

Listen to Phomolo Maphosa, SNV's Country Director in Uganda, calling for climate action at COP28 and emphasising the importance of increased global cooperation.

Global sector Head of Agri-Food speaking during COP28 on the importance of systems transformation at the Food Systems Pavilion.

Learn more about SNV at COP28