Azerbaijan names High-Level Champion for COP29

Following scathing criticism at the start of the year for a lack of diversity, Azerbaijan has named  independent Member of Parliament Nigar Arpadarai, as its High Level Champion for COP29.

Azerbaijan names High-Level Champion for COP29

Image credit; UN High-Level Champions

Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP 28 confirmed on Tuesday (20 February) that Ms. Arpadarai would take up the mantle of UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP29 in Azerbaijan later this year.

At the start of the year, the Guardian broke the news that Azerbaijan was proposing a 28-strong committee, entirely consisting of men, for the climate summit in Baku this winter.

The backlash was strong and immediate. Christiana Figueres, former UN climate chief, called the proposals “shocking and unacceptable”. Additionally, 75 female leaders from business, civil society and academia collaborated on an open letter urging Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev to rethink the make-up of the committee in terms of gender balance.

Following the backlash, Aliyev announced changes to the committee, adding one further man and 12 women to its membership. Azerbaijan’s deputy minister for ecology and natural resources, Umayra Taghiyeva, and its human rights commissioner, Sabina Aliyeva, are among the new additions.

Ms. Arpadarai is now on board to help steer key negotiations and initiatives, including advancing the five-year plan of the Marrakech Partnership, which calls on non-state actors to build ambition on delivering net-zero goals.

Welcoming the new Champion, Al-Mubarak said: “I would like to congratulate Ms. Arpadarai on her appointment as the ninth UN Climate Change High-Level Champion. I am looking forward to us working together.

“The accelerating momentum of real economy climate action serves as a beacon of hope for our society’s transformative journey. Businesses, investors, cities and regions, and communities worldwide are delivering action on the ground to make our lives and livelihoods greener, more prosperous, and more resilient.”

COP29 is set to take place in Baku from 11-24 November. Azerbaijan was confirmed as the host nation fairly late in the game, with formal approval only coming during COP28 in Dubai in December 2023.

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