Climate Change is the defining issue of our time and we are at a defining moment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action now, adapting to these impacts in future will be more difficult and costly.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force on 21 March 1994. Today, it has near-universal membership. Currently, there are 198 Parties (197 States and 1 regional economic integration organization) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The UNFCCC is a “Rio Convention”, one of three adopted at the “Rio Earth Summit” in 1992. Preventing “dangerous” human interference with the climate system is the ultimate aim of the UNFCCC. Read more about the Convention
Together with the Convention, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement establish the institutional agreements for the climate change intergovernmental process. Read more about governing, process management, subsidiary constituted and concluded Bodies. The UNFCCC secretariat (UN Climate Change) is the United Nations entity tasked with supporting the global response to the threat of climate change.
The UN Climate Change Conferences are the foremost global forums for multilateral discussion of climate change matters; they serve as the formal meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC, the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP) and the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (the CMA). The COP meets every year, unless the Parties decide otherwise. The first COP meeting was held in Berlin, Germany in March, 1995.
COP26 took place in Glasgow from 31 October - 12 November 2021. Learn more about COP26 at the dedicated United Nations page, at the UN Climate Change COP26 page, and also at the host country website. COP27 takes place 6-18 November 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. See the UN Climate Change COP27 page, visit the host-country website, and see the Climate Action Calendar for COP27.
Learn more about the Paris Agreement in the below video.
Video: Looking Back at 30 Years of Global Efforts to Address Climate Change | UNFCCC
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme to provide governments an objective source of scientific information. The establishment of the IPCC was endorsed by UN General Assembly in 1988. Its initial task, as outlined in UN General Assembly Resolution 43/53 of 6 December 1988, was to prepare a comprehensive review and recommendations with respect to the state of knowledge of the science of climate change; the social and economic impact of climate change, and potential response strategies and elements for inclusion in a possible future international convention on climate.
The IPCC is an organization of governments that are members of the United Nations or WMO. The IPCC currently has 195 members.
Thousands of people from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC. For the assessment reports, IPCC scientists volunteer their time to assess the thousands of scientific papers published each year to provide a comprehensive summary of what is known about the drivers of climate change, its impacts and future risks, and how adaptation and mitigation can reduce those risks.
In 2013 the IPCC provided more clarity about the role of human activities in climate change when it released its Fifth Assessment Report. It is categorical in its conclusion: climate change is real and human activities are the main cause.
WMO is the specialized agency of the United Nations dedicated to international cooperation and cooperation on the state and behaviour of the Earth's atmosphere, its interaction with the land and oceans, the weather and climate it produces, and the resulting distribution of water resources. WMO studies the climate, its variations and extremes, and its influences on a variety of activities including human health, safety and welfare to support evidence-based decision-making on how to best adapt to a changing climate. WMO created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), together with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in 1988.
Video: Overview of the WMO Greenhouse Gas Bulletin - October 2022
UNEP is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment. Climate Change is one of the seven thematic areas addressed by UNEP. UNEP created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), together with the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), in 1988. With support from the Swiss Federal Office of the Environment, UNEP leads the Geneva Environment Network, a cooperative partnership of over 75 environment and sustainable development organizations based in the Geneva region whose secretariat organizes and hosts meetings on the environment and sustainable development and promotes public awareness.
UNDP works in about 170 countries and territories, helping to achieve the eradication of poverty, and the reduction of inequalities and exclusion. UNDP supports countries' efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), or Global Goals, including by working with countries to turn their climate goals into action. At the heart of this, UNDP’s post-Paris climate commitment and support for designing and delivering ambitious climate plans, or Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), pave the way towards a more sustainable world for all. Climate Promise is UNDP's initiative to support countries on national climate pledges under the Paris Agreement. In November 2022 UNDP and the Climate Impact Lab launched Human Climate Horizons (HCH), a data and insights platform providing localized information on future impacts of climate change across several dimensions of human development and human security.
Mandated to promote the economic and social development of its member States, foster intra-regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa's development, ECA's mission is to deliver ideas and actions for an empowered and transformed Africa, informed by the 2030 Agenda and Agenda 2063. Its African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) works towards the goal of contributing to poverty reduction through successful mitigation and adaptation to climate change in Africa and to improve the capacity of African countries to participate effectively in multilateral climate negotiations. Access recent ACPC publications here.
ECE's major aim is to promote pan-European economic integration, as well as cooperation, sustainable development and economic prosperity. It is a driving force in combating climate change in the region: it contributes to defining a legal and regulatory framework to facilitate climate change mitigation, devising climate change adaptation strategies and offering solutions in transport. You can find on their site the Voluntary National Reviews for UNECE member States on their work in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.
ECLAC's mission in the field of climate change is to jointly contribute with its partners to knowledge generation and public policy design that promotes adaptation that is inclusive and sustainable, integrating the transition to environmentally sustainable and low greenhouse gas economies. See ECLAC publications on climate change, including the Effects of climate change on the coasts of Latin America and the Caribbean, and read more about ECLAC's work on Agenda 2030, including SDG 13 on climate action.
Serving as a regional hub to promote cooperation among countries to achieve inclusive and sustainable development, ESCAP is committed to support its 53 member States in realizing their climate change and resilience ambitions, particularly the least developed countries and small island developing States, through capacity-building, policy dialogues and the sharing of experiences and information. Their SDG Help Desk resources includes opportunities for peer-learning and data portals, including the SDG Gateway and access to SDG 13 Climate Action data.
ESCWA provides a framework for the formulation and harmonization of sectoral policies for member countries, a platform for congress and coordination, a home for expertise and knowledge, and an information observatory. ESCWA works with partners to tackle climate change issues in the region. Their data portal includes an Environment and Energy Sample dashboard. ESCWA publications on climate change can be accessed here.