COP28 Conversations — Join the Community in the Know
August 21, 2023
COP28 is 10 weeks away — November/December 2023. Conversations around this coming COP in Dubai have been fueled by the urgency to phase out and, more realistically, “phase-down” fossil fuel use. This topic became all the more heated given the role of COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber, who also serves as chief of Adnoc, the UAE national oil and gas company.
Yet, Al Jaber has thoughtfully restated the importance of oil and gas companies having a seat at the table and being held responsible for a sustainable future. Indeed, if we are going to develop and implement a strategy for phasing out fossil fuels, it would stand to reason that they should be part of the conversation and provide realistic solutions and a timetable for action.
Criticism, debate, and questioning are crucial in understanding the global dialogue and negotiation’s various sides and coming to an actionable agreement.
How to stay current and have at your fingertips analysis ensures wise, objective decisions. One of the best ways to get closer to the COP28 thought leaders and follow their statements, positions, and conversations, and the priority issues being discussed is to track — follow — their public exchanges.
Interested in COP28 and its impact on your strategy and progress? Here are 28 voices to follow.
7 Voices “Repping” COP28
1) COP28 UAE Official Account
The official COP28 accounts will give you the most up-to-date information on what’s happening and the conversations that COP28 is following.
2) Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber
President of COP28, Al Jaber, is tasked with setting the agenda for this year’s meeting.
“We must be brutally honest about the gaps that need to be filled, the root causes, and how we got here today.”
3) Simon Stiell
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) Executive Secretary is actively posting about COP28. He will keep you in the loop on what’s happening.
4) Hana Alhashimi
The UAE Chief Climate Negotiator for COP27 & COP28. She is active at events leading up to COP28 and posts key takeaways and updates. She’s also a senior adviser to the United Nations General Assembly on the environment, climate action, and sustainable energy.
5) Alok Sharma
President of COP26 and is a current Member of Parliament in the UK. He provides insightful commentary. He is UK policy-focused but a global voice of influence.
6) Manal Nadeem
A Top 10 UAE-based youth delegates out of 500+ applicants focused on advancing youth inclusion at COP28. She’s involved in planning events at the Youth Pavilion and helping to equip young delegates to navigate the complexities of COP.
7) Damilola Ogunbiyi
On the COP28 Advisory, she was the CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (UN SRSG) for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy. She’s a mover and shaker and has helped secure $600 billion in commitments for energy finance. Ogunbiyi is a pivotal player to watch, with a significant emphasis on the transition to renewable energy.
7 Journalist Voices to Follow
1) John Ainger
John’s been covering climate at Bloomberg for years. As an attendee at COP27, he shared frequent live updates, so keep him on your news radar screen as one-to-watch to stay in the know.
2) Valerie Volcovici
Covering climate at Reuters, Valerie attended COP27 and shared articles throughout the event. We can expect to see similarly comprehensive coverage.
3) Akshat Rathi
Writing for Bloomberg Green, Akshat is fearless in adding his two cents to the conversation. He was at last year’s COP and will likely be following closely again this year. Also, he’s released a book, “Climate Capitalism,” with the thesis that capitalism may be the answer to advancing climate solutions at the needed pace.
4) Fiona Harvey
Fiona has been covering the environment since 2004. As the environmental editor for The Guardian, Fiona has covered stories on topics spanning ecological issues, from plastic waste and the impact of heating on agricultural systems to climate financing and energy transition. She’s also attended almost every COP event since 2004.
5) Josh Gabbatiss
Covering climate policy as a correspondent at CarbonBrief, Josh covers climate policy, energy, research, finance, and more. He was at COP27 and was not shy to share his takes. He asks good questions and keeps a global perspective in his analysis.
6) Leon Lidigu
Leon is a global health and climate journalist for Nation Media Group in Kenya. He looks at the impacts on the environment and climate change on human health. He’s tapped in with the broader journalistic community in Nairobi and adds a critical perspective representing the global South.
7) Patrick Galey
He’s a senior investigator for Global Witness, a non-profit challenging abuse of power to protect people. He’s also a former AFP reporter who brings a critical viewpoint.
7 Business Leaders to Follow
1) Adam Elman
He’s the Head of Sustainability for Google EMEA. He is solutions-focused and in a position to affect change. He attended COP27 and presented on a Google collaboration to support mapping and understanding seagrass ecosystems and their ability to absorb carbon.
2) Pascal Barollier
He’s the Managing Director of the Public Engagement & Information Services Department at Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a dedicated advocacy and public policy team. Pascal is the Gavi representative leading on climate and health and plans to be at COP28, where he will oversee activities, particularly during health day.
3) Vanessa Kerry, MD MSc
She’s the CEO of Seed Global Health, a non-profit that invests in health system strengthening by training needed health professionals in resource-limited settings. She is also Special Envoy on Climate Change and Health to the World Health Organization. Dr. Kerry is a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital and is the associate director of Partnerships and Global Initiatives at the hospital’s Center for Global Health.
4) Lynn Loo
She’s the CEO of the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonisation, a non-profit to accelerate the international shipping transition to an alow-zero-carbon future. This topic is set to be a focus area at COP28, so her feed is one to watch. Based in Singapore, she’s a chemical engineer (Ph.D. from Princeton) and served as a Professor at Princeton in Engineering and at the Adlinger Center for Energy and the Environment.
5) Vojtech Vosecky
He’s a circular economist and co-founder of the Institute of Circular Economy. He’s focused on building a world without waste. He is a Chairman of a Steering Committee for Circular Economy, helping Prague transition to circularity. He is also an Associate for Circle Economy, focused on the Nordics and the CEE. Vojtech was a Top Green Voice on LinkedIn in 2022.
6) Mohamed Adow
He’s an international climate policy expert, and the Founder and Director of Power Shift Africa, a climate and energy think tank communicating from an African perspective. He is committed to advocating for those in developing nations, especially as climate change disproportionately impacts these populations.
7) Kate Raworth
She’s a heterodox economist working to transition economics, which has contributed significantly to climate change, into a science capable of transitioning our societies to a sustainable future. Her scholarship is dedicated to balancing vital human needs and planetary boundaries, known as Doughnut Economics. This work ensures climate change is combated equitably to improve lives. She founded the Doughnut economics action lab and is on the World Health Organizations’ Council for ‘Economics for Health of All.’
7 Climate-Focused Academics & Researchers to Know
1) Dr. Aisha Al-Sarihi
She’s a non-resident fellow of The Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington and a research fellow for the National University of Singapore’s Middle East Institute. She focuses on the Middle East and offers a measured approach from her perspective.
2) Prof. Katharine Hayhoe
She’s a climate scientist, the Chief Scientist of The Nature Conservancy, and a Co-Director of the Texas Tech University’s Climate Center. She provides a lot of interesting information via X as well as her website: https://www.katharinehayhoe.com/
3) Renzo Guinto, MD
He’s a physician interested in global health and sustainable development; Dr.Renzo Guinto is a third-year Doctor of Public Health (DrPH) candidate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He offers a global perspective and strategic thinking, offering ideas on various topics from universal health care, medical education, and migrant health to international health diplomacy, noncommunicable diseases, and climate change & energy policy.
4) Naomi (Sheehan) Sheehan
She’s a sustainable development scientist, planetary poly-crisis theorist, climate action, and social justice advisor. She is the founder of the behavioral science group “Climate Communicators.” A Top Green Voice and thought leader for European Thought Leadership on LinkedIn 2022/23, Naomi’s intersectional work focuses on the current planetary poly-crises of climate breakdown, biodiversity collapse, economic loss, and humanitarian meta-crises.
5) Roberta Boscolo
She’s the Climate and Energy Science Officer for the World Meteorological Organization. She previously worked for the World Climate Research Programme. She led a team of scientists applying climate change research to develop climate adaptation strategies. This contributed to shaping the vision of the UN lead initiative led by the WMO — Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS). She’s a Top Sustainability Influencer on LinkedIn.
6) Dr. Adelaide Lusambili
She’s part of the Climate Health and Maternal Neonatal Health Africa (CHAMNHA) consortium of researchers from the UK, Norway, Sweden, South Africa, Burkina Faso, USA, and Kenya studying the effects of heat exposure on the health of pregnant women and their newborns. Dr. Lusambili also serves as Associate Professor at the African International University within the Environmental Health and Governance Centre. She’s adding an essential voice to the conversation on the intersection of climate and health.
7) Dr. Maria Neira
She’s the Director of the Department of Public Health and Environment at the World Health Organization (WHO). She is focused on the impact of climate change — notably air pollution — on human health. Dr. Neira was rated one of the 100 Most Influential Voices in Climate Policy in 2022/23 by Apolitical.
Looking Toward COP28 — Have a Plan
This list represents a cross-section of geographies and themes, from energy transition and phasing out fossil fuels to advancing circularity in the built environment to decarbonizing trade and climate financing. For the first time this year, human health will receive a full day of focus. Michelle Williams, Dean of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said best, “Health is the human face of climate change.”
If you are in the planetary or human health business, this year’s COP28 will be an essential focal point of decision-making. Following these 28 powerhouses will give you a window into the COP28 conversations and the next phase of efforts to tackle our climate challenges.
Regardless of your industry sector or where you hail, if you’re a COP28 “watcher,” climate tech innovation or policy maker, tracking with these 28 voices centered around COP28 will elevate your perspective and ensure you have an informed voice at whatever table you sit.
Thanks to my colleagues Richard Hatzfeld, Senior Partner, Global Public Health, and Christopher Nial, Senior Partner, Global Health Practice | EMEA Public Health Co‑Lead, who each contributed key influential voices to this list. They are both influencers in their own right and worth following for perspectives on the intersection of climate and public health.