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Inspiring Thursday: Patricia Espinosa

For the past two weeks, the news has been filled with COP26 – the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, hosted by the United Kingdom in Glasgow, Scotland from the 31st of October until the 12th of November. At the top table of these talks are a lot of men, and only a handful of women. This Inspiring Thursday, we have chosen to highlight one of these women, who has made her way into this male-dominated field and is making her mark on the conversations between world leaders about much-needed climate action. Mexican-born Patricia Espinosa is the most important climate official working at the UN, as she holds the position of Executive Secretary of the UN framework convention on climate change. 

Having worked as a representative for Mexico on different multilateral bodies and international organisations in Geneva, Vienna and New York, Patricia Espinosa has extensive experience when it comes to being a leader in the global challenge of tackling climate change and its consequences. She is specialised in climate change, sustainable development and the protection of human rights as well as gender equality, with over 30 years of working at the highest levels of international relations. 

In the run up to the conference, Espinosa highlighted the extreme importance of it – while every COP has been significant, this year, the stakes are higher than ever. Not only have environmental disasters been escalating, but the COVID-19 pandemic has had major disruptive effects on societies all around the globe, which must now attempt to stand together and ‘build back better’ in order to mitigate the fallout of global warming. According to Espinosa, there were four issues to be solved with high priority in Glasgow these past two weeks. Past promises must be kept, meaning that commitments that were made up to 2020 should have been kept and this must be ensured. Outstanding disagreements must be resolved in order to move on and move towards full implementation of the Paris climate agreement. Ambitions must be raised, with governments and businesses showing more resolute willingness and plans. And finally, no voice can be left unheard, no proposal can be left unattended. These were Espinosa’s main goals going into the conference, but how did she feel throughout th summit, and how does she feel now, in its final days? 

“We are all facing the same climate emergency. We must all be part of the solution.” – Patricia Espinosa

On October 31, Espinosa made some opening remarks. She congratulated everyone for their hard work so far, but made sure to strongly acknowledge that the fight is far from over. “Every day that goes by without being able to implement the Paris Agreement in full is a wasted day — the accumulation of which have real-world repercussions for people throughout the world, especially the most vulnerable” were her words. However, the main point of her speech was encouragement. Encouragement to everyone, that success is possible, but only if everyone gives everything: “From COVID-19 to climate change, no one is safe until everyone is safe.” 

“Success at COP26 is entirely possible. Success is possible because we have the platform for action.” – Patricia Espinosa

Approximately a week into the conference, Espinosa said in an interview that she felt “really encouraged by what… we have seen so far.” She said from what she had seen, there was enough reason to be hopeful, and even cautiously optimistic. So for now, we can rest reassured, that global leaders are doing what they can to act in the struggle against climate change. 

Written by WAVE Intern India Stotesbury

Our last Inspiring Thursday: Afghan Girls Robotics Team

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