01By Colleen Cloonan Swain: Women’s Leadership Development and Advocacy Associate Mercy International Association: Mercy Global Action at the UN: COP 24 was filled with a myriad of ministerial dialogues, press conferences, technology showcases, events, and more. One group of attendees that moved me in particular was civil society. Many civil society groups shared their concerns in striking ways, urging delegates to increase ambition and take action.

One creative way was through skits. To the left you will see a skit from an Asian nation who was recently affected by a typhoon. Holding a sign that says “2030” the participants fell to the ground, demonstrating the loss and destruction that will be caused if we do not act soon to mitigate temperature and sea level rise. Typhoons were also a concern that was voiced from Sisters in the Philippines, Samoa, New Zealand, Guam, Mariana Islands and Micronesia at the Mercy Asia Pacific Gathering. We must continue to build resilience to climate change and disasters through international cooperation. We also must urge States to strengthen their disaster risk management and national action plans and incorporate local knowledge. For positive examples of climate action in the Pacific see groups like SPREP and The Nature Conservancy.

Another powerful skit can be seen to the right. This image shows a group that stood in 11silence to remember environmental and human rights defenders who have lost their lives. The protection of environmental and human rights defenders must be ensured. We must advocate for the incorporation and signing of the Escazu Agreement at COP 25 in Chile.

While you continue through the newsletter, you will read more about events, themes, find key resources distributed, and topics that were discussed throughout COP 24.

For daily, detailed accounts of the conference and its outcomes please see: Carbon Brief’s analysis of COP 24 at  and the Climate Action Network International Newsletters which were produced daily during the COP 24 which can be found at  . If reading other sources regarding outcomes from COP 24 be wary of “red flags”.



01By Colleen Cloonan Swain: Women’s Leadership Development and Advocacy Associate Mercy International Association: Mercy Global Action at the UN: While coinciding with the UN migration conferences in Morocco, displacement due to climate change was to be addressed at COP 24 in many forms. There continues to be widespread recognition internationally about how climate change has been and will affect the number of people migrating both internally within a country and to different countries. This year’s COP stressed the issue of “just transition” for workers as they move away from fossil fuels towards other forms of employment and decent work; this creates internal displacement as countries move towards more sustainable means of energy. The Silesia Declaration on “just transition” was signed by 50 countries and noted in the final COP text.

Furthermore, “At the Paris talks in 2015, countries agreed to establish a taskforce to 02provide recommendations on averting, minimising and addressing climate-related displacement…The recommendations of this task force were submitted and discussed in September at a meeting of the Warsaw International Mechanism (WIM), the formal mechanism at the UNFCCC for addressing the loss and damage caused by climate change. They were then endorsed at this year’s COP as an annex to the WIM’s final text, which “invites” countries to consider the recommendations.” It is our hope that loss and damage continues to be addressed and reviewed with more urgency.

Many UN Agencies and countries of Asia-Pacific stressed the theme of climate displacement through hosting events entitled “Climate Induced Human Mobility: Taking Stock of 3 years discussions under the UNFCCC”, “Voices from the climate frontlines: Protecting the most vulnerable and furthest behind” and “Living in the Face of Climate Change: From the Pacific Islands to the World”.

For more information on climate displacement see UNHCR’s “Key Concepts on Climate Change and Disaster Displacement or Sierra Club’s “Women on the Move in A Changing Climate.

Some events may be found via


01By Colleen Cloonan Swain: Women’s Leadership Development and Advocacy Associate Mercy International Association: Mercy Global Action at the UN: This past December, I was honored to attend the 24th Session of the Conference of Parities of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, otherwise known as COP 24. One of the main agenda items for this year’s conference was the finalization of the “Katowice Rulebook” which defines how climate action in the Paris Agreement is to be implemented and accounted for decades to come. Going into the conference, I knew these were ambitious goals but they were achievable with international cooperation and commitment.

 What were the Outcomes?



  • Within the final text of the “Katowice Rulebook” there is no mention of human 02rights, despite the recognition of human rights within the preamble of the Paris Agreement. Negotiators were not willing to mix social policies and climate policies despite the two influencing one another.
  • Finance, the next contentious theme of COP 24, resulted in permissive texts giving wealthier Member States more flexibility with their contributions and reporting. Agreements were made to conduct negotiations on climate finance every two years after 2020.
  • Despite widespread support and recognition of the 1.5° IPCC report, four Member States (Russia, Saudi Arabia, United States, and Kuwait) were not willing to heed the urgency and need for increased ambition to stay below this temperature limit. As a result, the final text does not “welcome” the report but welcomed its “’timely completion” and “invited” countries to make use of the report in subsequent discussions at the UNFCCC’ (See CarbonBrief).
  • Although talk emphasized increased ambitions towards reducing carbon emissions, some Member States fell into the trap of placing profits over the people themselves. One strong testimony against this was from 15-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden who stated “You are not mature enough to tell it like it is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money.” Watch her full speech here..


03Despite setbacks there were some positives at COP 24 as well.

For one, Member States agreed to the launch of a facilitative working group that will scale up consideration of the experiences of local communities and indigenous peoples with climate change and efforts to respond to it. Additionally, decisions will also be made at COP 25 in Chile regarding the Escazu Agreement, Latin America and the Caribbean’s first regional environmental treaty, which aims to protect the rights of access to information, public participation and access to justice in environmental matters. These are important steps in the right direction as human rights and environmental defenders continue to risk their lives across the world.

There were also many inspiring showcases of ecosystem-based approaches and systems to aid waste reduction and promote sustainable consumption and production in many country pavilions, as well as knowledge from local communities shared (See useful resources on page 4). Lastly, the voices of civil society and youth were both strong and motivational in both the ministerial plenary sessions and events. The large presence of both civil society and youth focused discussions on ‘people over profit/polluters’ and the urgency to increase climate ambition (see picture above).

Beyond COP24

 Read more:

CarbonBrief Clear on Climate

Climate Action Network International:


6At the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, on 21 December 2015, world leaders who are Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reached a landmark agreement to accelerate actions and commit needed resources for a sustainable low carbon future. Progress towards achieving these goals has been very slow coming. Experts are now warning that we are running out of time to save our planet from the destructive impacts of climate change. The effects of climate change are upon us. Extreme weather events such as floods, hurricanes, heat waves, earthquakes, etc., are being recorded at an alarming rate in different parts of the world that even climate change skeptics are now beginning to believe that all is not well.

From December 2 – 15, world leaders, experts, activists, and other stakeholders will 7gather again in Katowice, Poland, for the Katowice Climate Change Conference (COP 24), to deliberate on a collective action plan to realize those critical commitments made by all the countries of the world in Paris, in 2015.

Read more:

‘COP 24’ UN Climate Change Conference: What’s at Stake and What you Need to Know:

UNFCCC Katowice Climate Change Conference:



5The Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration will be held in Marrakesh, Morocco, from 10 – 11 December 2018. This unprecedented event which is convened under the auspices of the UN General Assembly will also attract thousands of stakeholders from civil society organizations, academia, the private sector, and numerous other groups. Sister Amarachi Grace Ezeonu will be in Marrakesh to represent SNDatUN NGO Office at the conference. The Sisters of Notre-Dame de Namur will collaborate with five other non-governmental organizations and the Government of Nigeria to co-sponsor a parallel event on the sidelines of the conference. Our parallel event will focus on the importance of strengthening non-state actors’ cooperation and partnership in the implementation of the global compact for migration.

Read more:

Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration at a glance:


4The United Nations was founded in the aftermath of WWII in 1945. Some of the principal objectives for founding the organization as outlined in the preamble of the UN Charter were; “to prevent the occurrence of future atrocities by affirming faith in fundamental human rights, in dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women, and of nations large and small and the commitment to promote better standard of life in larger freedom.” These fundamental human rights are all captured in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10th December 1948. This day is observed every year as the International Human Rights Day. The UN will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10th December 2018.

Seventy years on, the principles enshrined in the UDHR are still as relevant as they were in 1948. The UDHR has been translated into 513 languages, making it the most translated document in history.

Learn more:

Video: History of the UDHR:

Short articles on each of the 30 Articles of the UDHR:



UN Conference Hall.  UN Photo

One of the merits of our accreditation to the United Nations is that it avails Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and our affiliates opportunities for participating in many of the UN forums, commissions, and conferences. Three of such major UN conferences usually takes place in the first quarter of each year. Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, Associates of Notre Dame or our other affiliates can apply through the SNDatUN NGO office to attend any of these UN meetings. There is no fee to attend these sessions, but participants are responsible for their housing, food, and transportation. Funds are available to assist Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur from Latin America and Africa. If you are interested in attending any of the major UN meetings in New York in 2019, contact Sister Grace Amarachi Ezeonu as soon as possible at  You can also follow UN meetings by webcast at Below are some of the major UN sessions taking place between February and April 2019.


  • 11 – 21 February, 2019: 57th Session of the Commission on Social Development (New York).                                                                                                                          Priority theme: Addressing inequalities and challenges to social inclusion through fiscal, wage and social protection policies.”
  • 11 – 22 March 2019: 63rd Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (New York).
    Priority theme: “Social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.”
  • 22 April – 3 May 2019: 18th Session of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (New York)                                                                                   Theme: “Traditional knowledge: Generation, transmission, and protection.”