Interested in writing a letter to the editor or guest column for the Indiana Daily Student? Check out our guidelines and submission details here.
If you had told me freshman year that I would be attending the 27th Conference of Parties in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, I would have never believed you. I remember sitting in INTL-I 102 Climate Change and International Studies with Professor Jessy O'Reilly freshman year learning about international climate governance, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and COPs, dreaming that one day I would maybe have the opportunity to attend.
That class set the trajectory for my college career at IU, as I studied international studies, geography (climate and environmental change) and minored in atmospheric science. This all ultimately led to the opportunity I took to be a part of the student delegation to COP27, and it was such an honor to attend on behalf of IU.
To become a part of the delegation, you must apply to the course with a proposed research question or topic that relates to COPs. I went into COP27 looking at ecological restoration and utilization of nature-based solutions in international climate agreements. Nature-based solutions are climate solutions that center around nature and utilize the natural world to build adaptation and resilience. Ecological restoration is an example of a nature-based solution, which focuses on restoring environments which have been degraded due to human actions.
This is timely and necessary because the biodiversity crisis is occurring in tandem with the climate crisis. It is critical that both are taken into consideration when establishing the plans for the fight against climate change. During my time at COP27, it was clear that nature and biodiversity were given the spotlight, with an entire presidential thematic day dedicated to biodiversity.
It was impossible to walk through the venue and not hear people speaking about nature. COPs have the ability to bring together experts and specialists from all around the world into one space, which allows this beautiful sharing of knowledge. I have often joked since returning that COP27 felt like a “master class,” where I walked away with significantly more knowledge than I could have ever imagined about ecosystem restoration and nature-based solutions.
COP27 can be considered a win for nature as it was the first time that the term nature-based solutions was utilized in a cover decision. The meeting last year, COP26, laid the groundwork for this achievement by giving nature the international platform it warrants. This year's thematic day on biodiversity highlighted how nature intersects with almost every aspect of human life and how we must work to protect it. While nature is beautiful and must be restored, it is critically important to remember that ecological restoration and nature-based solutions are only one element in the fight against climate change. These must be done alongside decarbonization, not in place of it.
COP27 was a whirlwind of a week, and it went by quicker than I think any of us on the delegation expected. It is often easy to be dismayed about the state of climate policies and plans across the world but attending COP27 demonstrated that while the climate crisis may seem hopeless at times, there are thousands of people from all walks of life all across the world who are fighting to make a difference. While COP27 had a positive outcome for nature, that cannot allow us to become complacent. There must be a continued push for the involvement of nature in climate change at the international level, and I plan on being a part of that.
Liv Davis is a senior majoring in international studies and geography with a minor in atmospheric science.