UMaine awarded observer status at UN Framework Convention on Climate Change – C. Isenhour, N. Micinski

The University of Maine was recently awarded observer status by parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The status allows the university to send a delegation of students and faculty to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) Nov. 7–18 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.

UNFCCC was established in 1992 to stabilize greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Each year the parties to the convention attend a Conference of the Parties (COP). where collective action for climate mitigation and adaptation is negotiated.

UMaine’s status was confirmed at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland; members of the UMaine community now have the chance to join a delegation to COP27 that will observe negotiating sessions, meet delegates from around the world, participate in writing statements to present to country negotiators and explore how different areas of research at UMaine — including that emerging from the School of Policy and International Affairs and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’s Anthropology and Human Dimensions of Climate Change programs — can contribute to the international policy process.

UMaine’s application for observer status came after several UMaine faculty and students were given the opportunity to attend the United Nations Climate Negotiations in 2017 and 2018, made possible with assistance from UMaine supporters Dan and Betty Churchill.

UNFCCC grants observer status to nine different nonparty constituencies. As a research and nongovernmental organization, UMaine will join the meetings as a member of the Research and Independent Non-Governmental Organizations (RINGO) constituency, who are not present to negotiate or advocate a specific political position, but rather as researchers, there to provide scientific information or to study the negotiation process. UMaine joins a list of RINGO organizations that include top-ranked universities and nonprofits from across the U.S. and around the world.

“Securing observer status not only supports our signature programs and emerging areas of research excellence; it also provides significant pedagogical, research and outreach opportunities to faculty and students across campus and in our broader community,” says Cindy Isenhour, associate professor in the Department of Anthropology and UMaine Climate Change Institute.

“The delegation to COP27 will give UMaine students — like those in my course on Global Governance of Climate Change — a chance to participate and see up close what they are studying as part of their UMaine experience,” says Nicholas Micinski, assistant professor in the Department of Political Science and the School of Policy and International Studies.