In addition to attending the ‘regular’ COP (Conference of the Parties), I also attended an official side-event called ‘The Investment COP’.
The purpose of the Investment COP is to “strengthen bottom-up processes, collaboration across sectors and industries, create new deal flows, and facilitate climate related project development”.
For me attending the Investment COP was an opportunity to see how the private sector can work to address climate change, and how companies can collaborate with the government.
There were a lot of differences between the ‘actual COP’ and this side event. This side event usually only had 150-200 people in attendance at one time. (Although people would come and go throughout the day). This allowed for a lot more personal conversations – which lead to building stronger relationships.
Another difference was that the venue was a lot nicer! There was a seat for everyone, and a free coffee bar throughout the whole day. Lunch was also served – for free! This may seem like a selfish observations, but when you’re in the cold in Poland and the cafeteria line is 50 people long at the main venue – its something you notice!
The energy of the Investment COP was low compared to that of the main COP event. There was a lot more passion at the main event, and this drew me back to the main event. There were a lot of panels throughout the two days of the Investment COP, but none of them spoke with the urgency or passion that was so wide-spread at the main event.
What I Learned
One of the main things I learned from attending the Investment COP was that there are a lot people in the private sector that want to do something about climate change. Just because you aren’t a politician doesn’t mean you don’t have a seat at the table. The people at this side event wanted to find solutions, and they weren’t waiting on the government.
One of the most interesting examples was about coral reefs. On the second day of the Investment COP, they held a panel were entrepreneurs would pitch business and environmental ideas, and there were investors in the audience (not including me and my 5 euros) that would ‘follow-up’ with them. One of the ideas was about tropical hotels and resorts investing in the upkeep of coral reefs. The idea was based on the fact that coral reefs about 97% of the energy of waves headed to shore. This means that if you do not have coral reefs absorbing the energy, that energy is going to go towards destroying your hotel or resort! This got many investors attention.
I thought this idea was a perfect example of creativity that would benefit both the natural and private sector. Ideas like these get multiple parties involved – which we need in order to significantly fight climate change.