Our earth isn’t in trouble in any meaningful sense, although the biosphere—and all of humanity along with it—certainly is. Opinions differ on when exactly the threat from climate change is existential, but fewer people than ever today would argue that we aren’t well on our way. What’s more, we have a very good idea, at least in broad strokes, what we need to do to avert disaster.

We know that averting disaster requires cooperation, but there’s the hangup. We can’t agree on what cooperation looks like, who should be responsible for what, and indeed what the pacing of action should look like. What needs to be done will be painful for everybody—though more for some regions and states than for others—and in a geopolitical environment already fraught by distrust and increasing protectionism it feels as though asking for this kind of painful cooperation is…really hard.

Yet it’s necessary. We are closing in on the Paris Agreement’s 2030 goals for limiting overall global warming, and according to the latest UN synthesis report, we are nowhere near on track. The prospects for getting back on track don’t look that promising, either. Cooperation needs trust, and right now trust is coming at a premium. It’s not made any easier by the controversial choice of COP 28 host country UAE to name group CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company Dr. Sultan al-Jaber to preside over the conference proceedings.

In this tumultuous atmosphere, what can we do to foster more cooperation to give ourselves a chance at averting the worst impacts of climate change? This was the question driving Diplomatic Courier as we worked on the theme for this year’s annual UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28) special edition. Rather than rehash many of the sensitive political and technical pain points in negotiations, we decided instead to try to reframe how global publics think about our sustainability future by conceiving new approaches to education, innovation, and youth leadership.

In this edition, we asked three main questions:

-How do we craft better collaborative learning ecosystems to better equip youth and adults to address the climate crisis?

-How do we better communicate about climate change—with global publics and between governments—to foster trust and cooperation?

-How do we identify what long-term sustainability technological innovation looks like, and encourage those innovation paths?

We’re excited with the results. In cooperation with thought partners like the United Nations University system and the Smithsonian Science Education Center, Diplomatic Courier is pleased to bring a diverse set of expert voices who bring an array of perspectives—many of which will likely be new to our readers. It is our hope that some of these ideas will become conversation points for stakeholders in the climate crisis—which is all of us, really—as we try to find ways to cooperate even as we struggle to find points of trust and agreement.

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