From 30 November to 13 December 2023, the Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP28) hosted by the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Dubai (United Arab Emirates). This was the first COP to be held in the Middle East, which is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and the main purpose of the conference was to assess the progress of parties in implementing the Paris Agreement adopted in 2015 and to set out a course of action to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect life and livelihoods, to bring together Heads of State and Some 65,000 delegates, including observers, took part in the conference.
A delegation from UNU-IAS, led by Director Shinobu Yamaguchi, actively participated in side events and conferences to share research findings and promote the Institute’s thematic programme. From OUIK, Research Fellow Juan Pastor Ibarrus attended the UNFCCC’s Resilience Frontiers Pavilion and organised three sessions on the theme of garden culture. The sessions discussed the benefits of gardens as urban nature and the potential of global projects to utilise abandoned vacant land as NbS and turn them into urban solutions.
Traditional knowledge (8 Dec): discussed the ‘Ancestral gardens’ theme. The IAS biocultural diversity series was presented, exploring diverse cultural perspectives on gardens and urban nature through the lens of ‘tradition’. The audience was encouraged to incorporate traditional knowledge into their gardens. The session also presented findings from the Sustainable Nature Project, which demonstrated the benefits of traditional landscapes in biodiversity and climate change action.
Well-being (9 Dec): titled ‘Good Life Gardens’, this session began with an online poll on the aspects of life most valued by the audience. It then delved into the intangible benefits of close contact with nature, contrasting them with contemporary lifestyles; the IAS biocultural diversity series ‘Gardens and Artisanal Living’ and the results of a wellbeing survey in Kanazawa also further emphasised this aspect.
Sustainability (10 Dec): highlighted the situation of depopulation and ageing in Japan and presented examples of abandoned urban spaces that have been utilised and revitalised by communities. She also introduced co-management, volunteer and eco-tourism initiatives in which residents become ‘gardeners’ of their towns. The session concluded with an AI-generated image of an ideal shared garden.