Building consensus to close climate finance gaps
Sebastián Ochoa Molina is a diplomat in training who will join Colombia’s delegation to COP28 as a youth ambassador, with support from the Global Environment Facility and Climate Reality Project America Latina. In an interview, he reflected on the place of climate change in international affairs and shared what motivates him to focus on climate finance in Dubai.
What are your career goals?
I am an international business professional who is currently enrolled in Colombia’s diplomatic and consular training course. My main goal is to become a career diplomat, working on behalf of Colombia in international affairs. Addressing environmental issues including climate change will be a big part of this work and is a focus of my training at the diplomatic academy.
Colombia, with its unique geographic and climatic characteristics, has felt the effects of the climate crisis in various ways. As a mega-diverse nation, stretching across two oceans and encompassing part of the Amazon, we carry a unique responsibility to protect our natural heritage for generations to come. As I prepare for a career in diplomacy, I am working to learn as much as I can about the climate crisis and Colombia's role in it.
My country has set ambitious goals and taken on multiple international commitments in the fight against climate change, and I am very interested in working to see this through.
What message do you have for today’s political and business leaders?
My main message is that we must reach consensus among ourselves about where we are, and what the next steps are. This means taking seriously what the Global Stocktake will reveal about the current state of climate action versus what is needed to implement the Paris Agreement. We need to prioritize climate finance and close the gaps that are impeding action.
As climate change accelerates, business leaders, banks, and investors must act. By redirecting capital towards sustainable investments and away from carbon-intensive sectors, the financial sector can meaningfully reduce climate risk and accelerate the clean energy transition. There is a clear business opportunity from mobilizing resources to finance renewable energy projects, investing in cleantech innovation, and supporting climate resilience.
Why is it important to you to be in the negotiating room at COP28?
Attending COP28 is an incredible opportunity for me to participate first-hand in high stakes negotiations, and to gain direct insights into diplomacy and how to build cooperation around shared challenges. I am very interested in this work on bridging divides through multi-stakeholder negotiations. I am sure that the experience and connections from COP28 will equip me with new practical knowledge that can help me create positive change back home and in my future diplomatic work.
What aspect of the climate negotiations interests you most?
Climate finance. This is the main vehicle to ensure developing countries can achieve the goals set out in the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement. Providing adequate financial resources is a responsibility of the developed countries that contributed the most to the serious climate situation our world faces. I am looking forward to the chance to join discussions about this and work towards solutions to close today’s climate financing gaps.
What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy playing tennis and soccer. I also enjoy watching James Bond movies – any of them. And I enjoy reading about international relations, political science, economics, and conflict resolution. I absolutely love traveling and have been lucky enough to visit many amazing places.
This will be my second time in Dubai. The last time I was in the Middle East was right in the heat of summer. It made me realize just how vulnerable human life is to extreme temperatures. I think that reality is one of the reasons that the decision to host COP28 in Dubai is so significant. It's an opportunity for the negotiators to think about climate change and extreme temperatures through the lens of this region as well as their own constituencies. We need to take all realities into account, including those of vulnerable places and people, to safeguard our future.