Reflections from the UNFCCC COP26 Peatland Pavilion

December 15, 2021

 

In the halls of Pavilions in the Blue Zone of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) the first Peatland Pavilion stood out as one of only a handful of thematic pavilions and one which offered a welcoming, accessible and informative space – thanks to the global peatland community.  

Between the 1st – 12th November the Peatland Pavilion hosted a truly hybrid programme of events. The iconic ‘Water Droplet’ installation, designed by Richard Lindsay (University of East London) and erected by a dedicated build team (Jack Clough, Julie Van Offelen and Sarah Proctor), welcomed Cabinet Secretaries, Ministers, civil servants, peatland experts, SEC staff and pavilion visitors from across the UK and internationally whilst our online platform, powered by CrowdComms, connected 1,705 participants from 100 different countries into 45 live-streamed sessions. All sessions will be available to watch via a dedicated Peatland Pavilion YouTube channel later in December. 

COP26 Peatland Pavilion

Constructed as far as possible from sustainably harvested materials characteristic of peatland habitats, the ‘Water Droplet’ structure not only provided a talking point in Glasgow it represented the central tower of the Virtual Peatland Pavilion designed by University of East London students Hussein Ali Kasim and Mohammed Patel. Launched during COP26 the Virtual Peatland Pavilion provided a window to the world, enabling visitors to explore global peatlands from anywhere with an internet connection.  

This spectacularly innovative resource, curated by Richard Lindsay, provides the largest collection of digital peatland material from across the world and remains an evolving legacy which will go on to promote peatlands at future international conferences and conventions.  

 

Virtual Peatland Pavilion

 

Throughout COP26 the Peatland Pavilion showcased a wealth of evidence, practical action and passion for peatlands which demonstrated their vital role in achieving the four keys goals identified by the UNFCCC

  1. Secure global net zero by mid-century and keep 1.5 degrees within reach 

  2. Adapt to protect communities and natural habitats 

    a. Protect and restore ecosystems 
  3. Mobilise Finance 

    a. Release public and private finance to achieve above. 
  4. Work together to deliver 

    a. collaboration between governments, businesses and civil society 

The Peatland Pavilion goal was to raise awareness of the importance of peatlands in the climate and biodiversity crises. Damaged peatlands are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, annually releasing approximately 5% of global anthropogenic GHG emissions. Peatland restoration can significantly and rapidly reduce these emissions. 

The extent of global peatlands is at least 3% of the land area. The more we look for peatlands the more we find and the more immediate action can be taken to rewet them and reduce emissions now. To this end the Global Peatlands Initiative launched a Global Peatlands Assessment, which aims to fill the knowledge and research gaps on peatland distribution, status and trends, bringing the best available science together in order to get a global overview of the world’s peatlands, and Tuesday 9th November saw the launch of the Global Peatland Map 2.0 in a session led by Jan Peters, CEO, Michael Succow Foundation & Greifswald Mire Centre.  

Complementing the hub of activity around the Peatland Pavilion were evening receptions at the National Trust for Scotland’s Pollok House and a Historic Environment Scotland hosted evening at Glasgow Cathedral. Both events successfully brought together international public and private organisations, academics, practitioners, advocacy bodies and policy makers in a joint appreciation for and realisation of the importance of peatlands.  

COP26 evening events

COP26 brought with it wide-reaching opportunities to showcase UK peatlands not only through the Peatland Pavilion but through a wave of national, regional and local media interest including UK peatland restoration images featuring on Reuters in the run-up to COP26; 105 articles with a potential audience reach of 3.7 million during the Conference (see Media Report) and after the event including a summary of ‘outcomes for peatland from the summit’ from Peatland Pavilion presenters Prof Angela Gallego-Sala (University of Exeter) and Dr Julie Loisel (Texas A&M University). 

A summary of key achievements for peatlands during COP26 is also featured by the Global Peatlands Initiative here which include: 

  • “…German and English governments showcased their recently published national peatlands strategies. 
  • … individual countries strengthen their climate commitments, with Chile, Peru, Indonesia and the Democratic Republic of Congo including peatlands on their Nationally Determined Contributions for the first time, as part of their long-term strategies to combat climate change. 
  • One of the most ambitious peatlands restoration projects in Europe, the Great North Bog, was announced. The project will see more than 7,000 sq km of degraded bog across northern England restored in an attempt to quell the more than 3.7 million tonnes of carbon released annually.”

 

The Peatland Pavilion is a global collaboration between the UN, Member States, NGO’s, academia, practitioners, business communities and people. It has been created and coordinated by: 

Partner logos

The coordinators are extremely grateful to the following who have provided financial support to make the first ever Peatland Pavilion, online equivalent and its events possible:

Supporter organisation logos

 

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