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Principles and process for tracking progress in UNFCCC’s Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE)

Fridays for Future gathering at COP 25, 2019

This virtual roundtable was organised in the context of our Climate Engagement Initiative (CEI) project: a multi-partner international initiative that aims to support national governments to meet their commitments to inform, educate and engage their citizens, as enshrined in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as well as the Paris Agreement. We shared highlights from this work at the 8th Dialogue on Action of Climate Empowerment (ACE), hosted by the UNFCCC.


Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) encompasses six interrelated elements: education, training, public awareness, public access to information, public participation, and international cooperation.

A recent review of the Doha Work Programme, where ACE activities have been housed, has raised a number of concerns. One is that the UNFCCC has not yet developed a credible mechanism for setting targets and tracking progress in ACE; another is that national governments do not always have the information they need for effective implementation.

This roundtable presented an innovative proposal for principles for best practice for one ACE element – public awareness – and a process for tracking progress across all six elements. The participants invited to this initial discussion included key stakeholders, from international bodies (UNFCCC, UNESCO, UNITAR), national governments (including UNFCCC negotiators), civil society, and academic specialists. Effort was made to ensure representation from North and South, as well as indigenous and gender perspectives.

The roundtable consisted of two interactive sessions:

Session 1. Proposed principles for best practice

Drawing on the international evidence base, social scientists from our team developed a draft set of principles for effective public awareness in national ACE strategies. Dr. Chris Shaw presented these findings for discussion and critical review by roundtable participants.

Session 2. Process for tracking progress

Mr. Joshua Wickerham from the ISEAL Alliance presented a possible model for the development and application of such principles in supporting governments to set targets and track progress in the implementation of their national ACE strategies. This was followed by a discussion on whether and how the ideas presented at the roundtable might be developed further.

Agenda of the virtual roundtable:




Dr. Mary Stockdale: Opening


Ms. Adriana Jimenez Valenzuela: What is UNFCCC’s ACE?


Ms. Salka Sigurdardottir: The Road to COP26


Mr. George Marshall: Roundtable Background and Aims


Dr. Christopher Shaw: Principles for Effective Public Awareness


Q & A


Breakout: Discussion of Principles


Report back




Mr. Joshua Wickerham: Process for Tracking Progress


Q & A


Breakout: Discussion of Process and Next Steps


Report back


Dr. Mary Stockdale: Closing

Many thanks for their valuable contribution to this event, to:

  • IKEA Foundation for funding this event
  • Adriana Valenzuela, Salka Sigurdardottir and George Marshall for their opening speeches
  • Chris Shaw and Joshua Wickerham for their presentations
  • George Marshall, Mary Stockdale and Frances Hale, the event organizers
  • Volunteer facilitators and note-takers
  • All who came and participated