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UMN delegates to COP27 share their experience

The United Nations 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) took place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt from November 6 through November 20.  COPs are the formal meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. COPs have been occurring annually since 1995 to assess global progress on climate change and negotiate solutions.

The University of Minnesota supported 15 students, staff, and faculty serving as observer delegates at COP27 as one of many Research and Nongovernmental Organizations (RINGOs) that are invited to participate. Our delegates brought diverse experiences and perspectives to the pivotal events in Sharm el-Sheikh, and shared their experiences with us on social media and through blogs. Below are some excerpts from the stories they have shared with us. 


Kasey Bellegarde, Doctorate of Nursing Practice Student in Health Innovation and Leadership at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing

Kasey in scrubs and stethoscope at the Sustainable Development Goals Pavilion, a framework for nurses for global citizenship and nursing practice

Kasey in scrubs and stethoscope at the Sustainable Development Goals Pavilion, a framework for nurses for global citizenship and nursing practice.

As the first nursing student from the University of Minnesota to be invited to a COP delegation, I am feeling honored to bring a health lens to the climate conversation which can often be overlooked.

Hearing testimony throughout the week from Indigenous youth and elders, from leaders and community members in Uganda, Senegal, Malawi, the Marshall Islands, Pakistan and more about the devastating havoc climate change is wreaking right now on their lands and livelihoods, the disruption to health and well-being is clear.

For nurses or other health professionals like me who are feeling frustrated about the systems that do not work for our patients, there is space (and professional obligation) for us at the table at places like COP to advocate for policy that is good for health, for justice, for the communities we serve. Walking around the conference center in my scrubs and stethoscope has been a visible reminder that our health rises and falls on the decisions we make on climate.”

Read Kasey’s full blog post: COP: A lesson in global citizenship, as a nurse and as a human being on this planet.


Joe Warren, PhD Student in Comparative and International Development Education in the College of Education and Human Development

Joe Warren standing in front of pyramids in Egypt.

Joe Warren standing in front of pyramids in Egypt.

“Between crumbling downtown Cairo and the Citystars Heliopolis Mall you pass through many worlds. Khaled, my taxi driver and a carpentry teacher, takes particular pride in pointing out important landmarks on this ride. It is in this spirit that I point out a COP27 sign and say, “I’m going there” followed by a badly pronounced “Sharm El-Sheikh.” He reads the Arabic, and I don’t know how he feels about what’s written – does it say anything about climate change? If it does, does he know about it and does he care? He does assure me that the city is ‘very nice,’ an opinion corroborated by Sahl who informs me that it is indeed beautiful, “built just for tourists, almost no Egyptians.” I want to joke: “kind of like the pyramids – just for the royals!” but instead I just smile and nod. I think of the criticism of the Egyptian government’s record on human rights and the many thoroughly armed police I have seen on the streets. I’ve not felt threatened, but I have the sense that if any protests against the government and/or about the economic situation were to break out, I’d run and hide in my Hilton immediately. Is the Egyptian government trying to hide aspects of themselves from the world by hiding us in Sharm? Or, like us all, do they just want to be seen in the best light possible?” 

Read Joe’s full blog post: Slouching towards Sharm El-Sheikh


Amany Abdelnour, Master of Development Practice Student at the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Amany Abdelnour presenting at COP27, her image is projected on a large screen with a blue backgroundAmany Abdelnour gave a brilliant address at a plenary session for statements by observer organizations. She shares:

“I had the pleasure of speaking on behalf of the Research Institutions and NGOs at COP27. First of all, thank you so much Miriah M. Russo Kelly, PhD and the RINGOs community for your trust, support, and guidance. I would also like to thank Institute on the Environment University of Minnesota for giving me the opportunity to attend COP27 as part of the UMN Delegation.” 

View Amany’s speech: Amany Abdelnour speaks for Research and Non-Governmental Organizations at COP27


Jessica Hellmann, Executive Director of the Institute on the Environment

Jessica Hellmann (right) with Jess Gutknecht (left) at COP27.

“At the meeting itself, there’s an undeniable sense that abating climate change is actually achievable – that despite repeatedly falling behind in our shared ambition, it’s still possible to achieve the goals of the original UNFCCC charter and the Paris Agreement: holding the global average temperature increase to 2 degrees above historic baseline, if not 1.5. It’s not blind hope because rapid transitions do in fact happen. And without the hope of possibility and commitment to keep striving, what do we have at all?

For “observers” (everyone other than negotiators and the press), the main reason to attend COP27 is to be part of this global conversation and shared ambition. There are hundreds of panels and presentations at country pavilions, corporate-sponsored side events, and civil society venues. These presentations are extremely high-level; they are much more about rhetoric than substance. It’s not a place to learn the latest science or hear particulars about what climate actions are actually happening. Instead, the key is to listen for what is being talked about and how folks are talking about it, as well as the variation in that conversation among countries and constituencies. And to join in that conversation with your own expertise or agenda.

It’s the blend of my own interests and the new things I learn from being in the mix of the moment that makes being at the COP so valuable.”

Read Jessica’s full blog post: What COP27 tells us about connecting climate ambition to climate action


Olivia Carroll, Student at University of Minnesota Law School

Olivia Carroll (right) with Ian Fry (left), UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change.

“The morning begins with a promise. Just after 9:00 AM on Wednesday morning, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, John Kerry, watches on as Scott Nathan, CEO of U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) signs a retainer letter with Sactec CEO Terje Pilskog to explore potential financing support for a new green hydrogen project in Egypt.

As a University of Minnesota law student pursuing a career in energy and environmental law, I am exceptionally thrilled to attend COP27 and experience this first-hand account of international law at work, state-to-state negotiations, and private public partnerships as they are built before my very eyes.”

Read Olivia’s full blog post: A surprise green hydrogen agreement amidst the events of COP27.

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