SAERI Scientist presents at COP-27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt

Dr Narissa Bax

Climate change is increasingly causing problems across the globe. The Paris Agreement to keep global warming below 1.5-2C has not been met, and the road towards it not well laid out. The recent 6th Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report shows however that haste is needed. The 27th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP-27) is a platform for 197 states, or 'parties' to discuss lessons learnt from the 6th IPCC report, and how they will achieve the goals agreed to in the Paris Agreement to limit warming below 1.5°C-2°C.
This year COP-27 was hosted in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from November 6th – 20th and SAERI’s Marine and Coastal Program Coordinator, Dr Narissa Bax, was in attendance as part of a delegation for the Deep Ocean Stewardship Initiative (DOSI) Climate Change Working Group.
Beautiful coral reefs of the Red Sea, Ras Muhammad National Park south of Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt
©Narissa Bax
Dr Bax attended multiple presentations, plenaries, negotiations and stakeholder meetings and she presented during three panel discussions on topics ranging from the deep-sea, to blue carbon and the importance of seafloor mapping to progress global knowledge and conservation efforts. This allowed for a unique opportunity to participate during international discussions, and engage with scientists, policy makers, and those most impacted by a lack of global action on climate change face-to-face and view decision making in real-time.
Advertisement for the first panel presentation Dr Bax was kindly invited to contribute to at COP-27. ‘’The purpose of this event is to communicate the importance of the deep sea, its connection to climate change and express the thoughts of the next generation in deep-sea science. The deep ocean plays an important role in climate mitigation, and it provides us with multiple ecosystem functions and services. However, the deep sea is threatened by climate change and human activity. Early-career researchers are interested in communicating the importance of including the deep ocean in all negotiations related to climate change and they want to bring knowledge of the deep sea to the general public.’’

Above image: Members of the DOSI deep-sea delegation after presenting on The Deep-Sea, the Climate and the Next Generation at the Climate Education Hub on Earth Day. Panelists from left to right, Dr Lisa Levin (moderator), Dr Isa Elegbede, Dr Sarah Seabrook, Olivia Pereira, Michelle Guraieb and Dr Narissa Bax. This presentation was live streamed on Earth Day and has been viewed over 55.5K times, with 56,134 total views across all social media platforms to date, check it out on the Earth Day Network here: This image is also included on the cover of the Deep-Sea Round-Up newsletter, here:

Above image: Overview of Antarctic Blue Carbon used as a backdrop to frame the presentation by Dr Bax as part of the second panel discussion she was kindly invited to contribute to on Blue carbon: the ocean’s role in fighting climate change - ‘’There is no climate solution without the ocean, and research will help us to continue to understand and harness the ocean’s unique contribution. The term “blue carbon” may be used holistically to refer to the removal of carbon in marine systems by biological processes - from the coast to the deep ocean. Blue carbon is being discussed more and more by policy-makers and this event aims to ensure that policy is driven by the science, delivering the climate change impacts we all need.’’

Above image: Dr Narissa Bax presenting during the panel discussion on Blue Carbon with co-panelists Dr Jim Edson and Dr Anya Waite © Wassim Dbouk

Above image: Advertisement for the third and final panel presentation Dr Bax was kindly invited to contribute to at COP-27 ‘’undoubtedly, seabed mapping is an enabler of international management of our ocean, and influences the development of a sustainable blue economy. Seabed maps also provide the foundational knowledge we need to address many ocean, climate change, and biodiversity issues. Therefore, achieving a global ocean map by 2030 is not so much an ambition, but a necessity. Without it, we will struggle to achieve joined-up policies, which in turn reduces our ability to effectively mitigate and adapt to climate change and realise a sustainable ocean that supports a growing global population. And yet, over 75% of the ocean remains uncharted. For this event, we bring together a diverse panel of experts to discuss how seabed mapping data is essential in addressing climate change and for safeguarding the future of the planet, and explore how we can work together to achieve this critical goal.’’

Above image: Dr Narissa Bax presenting during the high-level panel discussion: SEABED 2030: mapping for people and the planet with co-panelists Dr Bernadette Snow, Dr Sophie Seeyave and Dr Rick Spinrad with Dr Steve Hall as moderator. © Eliza Poloczanska

Above image: COP-27 brought together, not only scientists and policy-makers, but also artists and their works for display in the Blue Zone (formal negotiations space) and the Green Zone (a public facing space)

Many are calling COP-26 and COP-27 ‘an increasingly blue COP’, and 2022 was the first year COP-27 hosted an Ocean Pavilion in the formal negotiations area (Blue Zone) (led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Scripps Institution of Oceanography), with multiple events and discussions to ensure the ocean was recognised as central to climate negotiations. Resultantly, there was more representation of the Ocean and islands at COP than ever before.

Some key outcomes in the final COP-27 text include; commitments to a new fund for ‘’loss and damage’’ resulting from climate change, for vulnerable nations and small island states. This dedicated fund was seen as the key outcome of COP this year, and the ocean-climate-nexus was strengthened by the clear linkage between developing nations and a reliance on, and connection to ocean health. For example, in Article 45, the Ocean and Climate Change Dialogue was mandated as an annual event with two conveners appointed to enable effective communication between the dialogue and COP negotiations. Enhanced ocean observation was also called for in Article 26 and a call for research into and the promotion of ocean-based actions that advance climate sustainability was included in Article 46. Moreover, whilst the Ocean still lacks a defined agenda item, it is now in the cover decision - the overarching decision at the discretion of the presidency. Furthermore, in terms of the evolution of the text - this is one of the few issues that is not divided based on developed and developing nations mandates (and therefore globally supported), which bodes well going forward.

Looking to the future - the DOSI delegation hope to continue to highlight the Ocean, and the deep-sea in particular, in the context of climate change mitigation, adaptation and inclusion in climate negotiations during the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) in the United Arab Emirates. Where the foundation set by COP-27 on ocean dialogue can hopefully progress into on the ground action and conservation measures.

From an ocean conservation perspective, the final decision firmly acknowledged the role of the ocean and consolidated the mandate for an annual Ocean-Climate Dialogue in the final declaration to ‘’Encourage Parties to consider, as appropriate, ocean-based action in their national climate goals and in the implementation of these goals, including but not limited to nationally determined contributions, long-term strategies and adaptation communications’’.

This sets the stage for ocean-based economies and island locations, like the Falkland Islands, to consider the role of their biodiverse, intact and unexplored marine habitats in climate-mitigation efforts. To both conserve nature, but also to retain processes in nature (nature-based-solutions to climate change), such as carbon storage and sequestration ‘blue carbon’ in kelp ecosystems and on the seafloor - for the benefit of society, economy and the climate into the future.

Narissa Bax would like to warmly acknowledge and thank the DOSI Climate Change working group for the kind invite to COP-27. The High Seas Alliance and DOSI Travel Fund for a Deep-Sea Scientist for providing the funding to attend COP-27 in Egypt. The John Ellerman Foundation for providing funding for the MCPC role at SAERI. The Climate Action Hub and Ocean Pavilion for hosting deep-sea presentations and events. Katy Hill and colleagues from the National Oceanography Centre (NOC). Eliza Poloczanska from the IPCC. Daniel Bayley from Fauna and Flora International (a brilliant dive buddy). David Boot from NOC for the invite to present on: Blue carbon: the ocean's role in fighting climate change, and co-panelists Jim Edson and Anya Waite and panel chair Ed Hill. The University of Southampton for sponsoring attendance at COP-27 in week one. Judith Fenwick, Kilaparti Ramakrishna and Peter Ryde and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for sponsoring attendance at COP-27 in week two. Kira Coley from The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO SEABED 2030 for the invite to present in 'Seabed 2030: Mapping for People and Planet', and co-panelists Sophie Seeyave, Bernadette Snow and Rick Spinrad with Steve Hall as moderator. Brandon Gertz for invaluable support from afar and for highlighting deep-sea related work on social media platforms. Thank you Dave Barnes, Chester Sands, Markus Diesing, Santiago Pineda-Metz and Rachel Downey who took the time to discuss some of the blue carbon questions posed at COP-27 and others from the Antarctic Seabed Carbon Capture Change (ASCCC) team who have supported my taking this work into policy spaces over the last few years. Thank you to those who came to see our panel on Blue Carbon, despite the overlap with Joe Biden (especially Sian Henley) and those who came to see Dave Barnes at COP-26 despite the overlap with Barack Obama (maybe at COP-28 someone will talk about Antarctic blue carbon at a different time to the US presidency). A special thanks to the incredible deep-sea delegation who shared the experience and will hopefully share it again at COP28 – including; Maria Baker, Sarah Seabrook, Lisa Levin, Maria Baker, Wassim Dbouk, Isa Elegbede, Michelle Guraieb, Elva Escobar, Sonigitu Ekpe, Olivia Pereira, Eesha Rangani, Bernadette Snow and Nathalie Hilmi. Lastly, thank you to those who took the time to watch the live stream and other deep-sea events and to those who continually engage with the complexity of climate change discussions year on year out, despite the long and winding road to implementation.
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