HomeEducationSustainability EducationGreat opportunity for UMN faculty, staff, and grad students to observe international climate change policy making at COP27

Great opportunity for UMN faculty, staff, and grad students to observe international climate change policy making at COP27

UMN COP27 delegation applicants must fill in this form: z.umn.edu/COP27 by Sept 20th at 11:59 pm.


The University of Minnesota (UMN), through the Institute on the Environment (IonE), holds official “observer” status with the UNFCCC, which holds COP27, also known as the “international climate talks.” Through this form and a selection process organized by IonE, the UMN offers an opportunity for 14 faculty, staff or graduate students to be observers at COP27. A diverse UMN delegation drawn from across campuses, colleges and disciplines is sought. Faculty, researchers, post-docs, graduate and professional students, full or part-time status, are all welcome to apply. Preference goes to those with research interests or projects that directly relate to climate change policy or to the broader context, history and meaning of the UNFCCC and COP27 events and objectives. There is a priority for Africans and members of the African diaspora, as described below.

COP27 “The Africa COP”

Many are calling COP27 the “Africa COP,” for: 1) the location in Egypt, 2) the attention focused on whether climate finance promises of the developed world to the developing world, including many African nations, will become commitments, and 3) the possibility that more Africans will be able to attend as parties (representing countries), observers, media or members of civil society.

Observers at past COPs have been overwhelmingly citizens of developed countries. In a Background Note entitled Process to strengthen the observer engagement in the UNFCCC, UNFCCC staff indicate that “Despite the efforts of developed country NGOs to nominate developing country participants, the statistics show that the proportion worsens when we look at the breakdowns by nationality.” At COP26, last year, 73% of the observers attending were from developed countries (per graph, page 8 of the referenced report). UN data indicates that 30% of the world’s population is from developed countries.

The reasons why Africa and climate need to be an urgent global priority are abundant, as climate drives fire, drought, food insecurity, migration and more in many countries. In terms of climate negotiations, Africa’s situation is explained well by Harsen Nyambe, director of sustainable environment at the African Union Commission, saying “How much funding Africa gets is the biggest factor for how prepared it will be for a hotter future.” He goes on to say, “We recall the $100 billion that was promised has never been fulfilled and current assessments show that even that amount is not enough.” The $100 billion is a reference to the 2009, Copenhagen COP climate finance pledge. These quotes and the context are drawn from a Time Aug 2, 2022 article: African Countries Push For Rich Nations to Help Continent’s Climate Transition Ahead of COP27.

UMN’s Observer Delegation to Sharm El Sheikh for COP27 – 14 People Total

Given the disparate attendance statistics and climate impacts noted above, UMN will prioritize the attendance of Africans and members of the African diaspora.

UMN is an official “research and independent non-governmental organization” (RINGO, a constituency formally recognized by the UNFCCC, and thus may send observers to COP27. Like most RINGO organizations, UMN splits its observer delegation into attendees during Week One (Nov 6 -13) and Week Two (Nov 14 – 18). This system allows more people to attend. Past UMN delegations have been 8-12, or 4-6 people per week. This year, the UMN COP27 delegation will be 14 people, or 7 in week 1 and 7 in week 2.

Required Form

This form is required for University of Minnesota community members interested in attending COP27, related UNFCCC meetings, future COP sesions (COP27, etc.), unofficial events affiliated with the COP sessions (such as programs for “civil society” that are hosted by the country hosting the COP) or related meetings.

Form Does Not Guarantee Attendance at COP27

Filling out this form is necessary to attend a COP as a part of a UMN delegation, but does not guarantee attendance, as delegation size is strictly limited by the UNFCCC.

Covid-19 & Travel Requirements

Be aware of a possibility of Covid-19 spread or other disruptions affecting COP27. COP meetings in the past have drawn well over 20,000 people together. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.

UMN COP27 Travelers Must Register in the UMN “International Travel Registry”

UMN requires advance registration of all international travel for all faculty, staff and students. If you do not register, your COP27 badge may be withdrawn.
Expected Travel Costs
There is no travel subsidy available for COP27 for faculty or staff. Each observer will be responsible for their own expenses. There is no registration fee, beyond your travel expenses. IonE is investigating booking a block of hotel rooms as well as making a group flight (for weeks one and two) to Sharm El Sheikh, as travel in Egypt will be new for many of the UMN group and flights are complex. A three star hotel double is $150-$200 a night with breakfast, and higher for a single room. You should plan that flights and hotel in Sharm El Sheikh will be be in the range of $2,500 to $3,000 or more for a week. Information about COP27, the conference center, hotels and travel is on the Egyptian host committee website.
Funding for Graduate Students
This year, graduate students can apply for up to $1,500 per student in scholarship funding, which is available through IonE to cover flights and lodging related to COP27. Students should expect to either pay or fundraise at least $1,000 to cover their own travel costs. Note that COP27 has no registration costs. Past student attendees sought travel funds from their departments, student organizations and fundraising. If you are selected to attend COP27, you will be asked brief follow-up questions regarding your financial need and other information.
Institute on the Environment (IonE) Staff Support at COP27
An IonE staff/ Graduate Research Assistant team of Beth Mercer-Taylor, Joe Warren and Nfamara Dampha will be in touch with delegation members about travel logistics and costs, and will also be sharing tips and tricks for preparing for and navigating the COP27 experience, choosing events, networking and more.
Notes on UMN Observer Delegation Size
In 2021 and in 2019, the UMN got 6 observer spots for COP25 in Madrid, Spain and for COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland (this is per week, so 12 total) in Madrid. In 2018, UMN got 5 spots for COP24 in Katowice, Poland. UMN got 4 spots for COP23 in Bonn and 5 for spots for COP22 in Morocco and COP21 in Paris. Delegations are split into groups for weeks one and two. In some years, including 2021, additional spots for UMN delegation members become available when other university partners “donated” their observer spots.
Consider Attending PreCOP and COP Related Meetings 
For those attending COP meetings as well as those not able to attend COP meetings, it is worth considering attending various scientific and ministerial meetings such as the PreCop27, this year in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in early October, or the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA), held at the UNFCCC offices in Bonn, Germany in the summer prior to the fall COP session. Most often, no one from UMN makes plans to participate in these meetings, so it is generally easier to get an observer pass to attend such meetings than to attend the COP itself.

News on COP27

The International Institute for Sustainable Development is an excellent site for up to date coverage and topical updates on COP27 and themes such as adaptation, energy, oceans, forestry and much more. Subscribe to the “Earth Negotiations Bulletin.”
Follow the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for updates on the processes and decisions leading up to COP27, as well as full texts of conventions and decisions at past COP meetings, such as the Paris Agreement in 2015.

COP27 Coverage

Livestreaming of many COP27 climate negotiation sessions will be freely available at https://unfccc.int during COP27. Coverage of UMN COP27 observer experiences will be available here, and through social media. Look here for an announcement on when the UMN observer delegation will be speaking on campus, upon their return.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)

The IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report offers the global scientific consensus on climate change science.

Educational Coordinator


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *