By Pari Kasotia
Deputy Director of The Solar Foundation, a member of the UNA-NCA Chapter and an active participant of the UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee
On March 23, the President of the United Nations General Assembly convened a high-level event on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Agenda in collaboration with the Secretariat of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). As part of the process, the United Nations-Non-Governmental Liaison-Services facilitated a stakeholder Selection Committee for the evaluation of civil society and social entrepreneur candidates for speaking roles. Pari Kasotia, Deputy Director of The Solar Foundation, a member of the UNA-NCA Chapter and an active participant of the UNA-NCA Sustainable Development Committee, was selected among a pool of highly qualified individuals by the President of the General Assembly and the Selection Committee to serve as the panelist for the afternoon session titled, “Implementing Solutions: Scaling up Implementations of the Paris Agreement and the SDGs”. Pari Kasotia shared the podium with highly influential dignitaries which included:
· Pei Liang, Negotiator, Department of Climate Change, National Development and Reform Commission, China
· Veronica Arias, Secretary of the Environment of the Metropolitan District of Quito
· Adnan Amin, Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
· Markus Tacke, Chief Executive Officer, Siemens Wind Power
· Peter Wiklof, Chief Executive Officer, Alandsbanken Abp
· Elliott Harris, Assistant Secretary-General (UNEP)
· Robert Kirkpatrick, Director, UN Global Pulse
· Carla Mucavi, Director, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
The opening session included remarks by the President of the 71st Session of the General, Assembly Mr. Peter Thomson who underlined the need for continued positive action and the need to bring them to scale to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. Secretary-General António Guterres also emphasized the need for leadership that is backed by substance to address the looming threats of climate change.
Pari’s remarks touched on the role of the federal government in setting the goals and the policy agenda to take action on climate change but underscored the equally important role of the state and local governments and the civil society to bring about effective change, citing examples of states in the US such as California and the northeastern states for trailblazing and establishing cap and trade systems. Pari gave examples of her organization, The Solar Foundation, which is working incessantly to reduce market barriers of the solar sector and build the workforce to take on the new jobs of today and tomorrow. Pari also emphasized the crucial role of the private sector in demanding change and providing innovative solutions. Companies in the US such as IKEA, Wal-Mart, Kohl’s and Whole Foods are staying true to their sustainability commitments and many African enterprises are implementing innovative solutions such as pay-as-you go solar services. Pari touched on the role of an active citizenry and civil society in demanding climate actions and holding their governments and other stakeholders accountable.
Pari concluded her remarks by emphasizing three key point: First, country governments and stakeholders should disseminate data which provides periodic updates on the progress being made. Second, countries need to establish baselines and benchmark any progress against those baselines. And last, governments, stakeholders, and civil society needs to provide transparency and accountability to their citizens to get them engaged and supportive in meeting the climate change agenda.