Tag: NGO Participation

Transparency is the New Black

ECO hopes that all negotiators had a chance to rest over the weekend and will be back to the conference venue with a renewed sense of common purpose. A good way to demonstrate this would be to ensure that no arbitrary and disproportionate restrictions are imposed on civil society presence in negotiating rooms. Last week ECO saw only 2 representatives allowed in each APA negotiating room to represent the whole range of views and expertise available among environmental and development NGOs.

Having been impressed by the hospitality of the people of Marrakech, ECO really has a hard time accepting these exclusionary rules enforced at the UN venue. Do the secretariat and the APA co-chairs really believe that only two badges allow for a good representation of four-billion women? Or two badges for those representing 1.8 billion of young people?

We call on the presidency, the APA co-chairs and the secretariat to ensure more inclusive arrangements for the second week. Unless they voice their opposition to these new practices, parties remain complicit in this situation.

The first CMA must open in an inclusive context and ECO looks forward to working with Parties to find adequate modalities ensuring a sufficient participation of civil society throughout the second week.

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Good News Day, Sort Of

Yesterday was a good day in that there was no official Fossil of the Day winner; though some would say Venezuela deserves at least an honourable mention for attempting to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

ECO completely gets that fossil fuel companies shouldn’t be influencing negotiations. Organisations making a business out of polling have no place here. That doesn’t mean that they should be lumped and grouped in with everyone else in civil society though!

We live in a world where the voice of the people counts—civil society can help governments truly understand the needs of the communities and support the development of effective, relevant climate solutions. Flush that dirty water down the drain but keep the baby safe, Venezuela.

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Let Us In

While Parties negotiate key aspects of the Paris Agreement in the APA informals, only 2 representatives per constituency are allowed to enter each of these sessions. ECO reminds Parties that just 6 months ago, all Parties “reaffirmed the fundamental value of effective participation by observers in the intergovernmental process […] and acknowledged the need to further enhance effective engagement of observer organisations as the UNFCCC process moves forward into implementation and operationalisation of the Paris Agreement” (SBI conclusions on AIM). Surely this does not mean that 99% of observers should be left out in the cold.

Observer organisations represent a very broad range of perspectives and expertise which are essential to the success of negotiations. Their wealth of experience is completely obliterated by imposing such tight restrictions on their presence and participation.

Having spent months preparing for the conference, eventually getting a ticket to one negotiation is surely not enhanced participation, unless your baseline was no access at all

ECO knows there are better uses of everyone’s (ours and the secretariat’s) time, so we request that the secretariat complies with the commitment reiterated by Parties for effective participation, and call on Parties and the Presidency to end this new practice of keeping most observers out of the room.

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Moving Transparency in the Right Direction

With transparency coming into focus in the APA, here are three cheat sheet answers to help with the transparency eye chart.

Transparency is a cross-cutting issue and Article 13 has many facets, making it a complicated piece of the Paris Agreement puzzle. To deal with this complexity, Parties need a boost of strong modalities, procedures and guidelines (MPG).

The first step is to build a common and inclusive framework to enhance effectiveness. This means ensuring all strands of the transparency framework are tied together with flexibility and in the context of equity, to account for differing national circumstances. The MPG must be the leader of the transparency pack on several fronts. These include the level of action and support for how Parties implement the commitments, in the context of the cross-cutting principles reiterated in the Agreement, including the integrity of ecosystems, human rights and gender equality.

Secondly, non-Party stakeholders can provide a great contribution to the effectiveness and integrity of the transparency framework. The modalities, procedures and guidelines should recognise and promote this role.

Finally, the entire process needs to be complete and ready for 2018. When aiming to reach such an imperative goal, concrete steps must be taken. Hence extra sessions might be necessary to make this transparency framework operational for 2018. Also, it will aid national implementation to be comparable across the board. Let Marrakech be the constructive conversation that kick starts this. It’s a continuous journey; but let’s not forget that all marathons started with a single step in the right direction.

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Q&A for the Ministerial Pre-COP meeting

The countdown to COP22 will intensify at the Ministers meeting on 17 October intended to clarify key issues before the conference. The incoming Moroccan presidency and outgoing French presidency have prepared a handy Q&A for Ministers to come prepared to the meeting. ECO has answered the most relevant questions for you exclusively in this issue of ECO.

Mobilisation of means of implementation 

1) What to expect for the roadmap towards the USD 100 billion? 

Like all good financial tools and plans, the roadmap needs to have clarity and predictability. It needs to provide an accurate and detailed forward-looking account of how the US$100 billion will be mobilised in addition to the existing efforts being made. This should include the types of instruments, sources, channels, etc. as well as public-private leverage ratios. ECO has said it dozens of times: greater clarity on financial support to mitigation and adaptation will generate confidence in developing country Parties. It will also showcase the amount of finance flowing in the coming years by 2020 which will help developing countries integrate NDCs into their planning and implementation. Of particular note would be building on the OECD’s 2015 report on progress towards the $100 billion goal. This means grants should be reported at face value and present net positive flows into developing countries.

2) What are Parties’ intended announcements/initiatives at the COP that would show support, action and momentum?

COP22 should assess and highlight pre-2020 ambition. That’s right, we never forget about what needs to happen now — in particular, means of implementation, the pledges made by countries within CP2 of the Kyoto Protocol, countries’ Cancun pledges, the NAMA registry, REDD+ and plenty of others. This assessment would show support, ambition and momentum in the context of the facilitative dialogue technical track. Ideally, this would be in the form of roundtable discussions amongst experts, facilitated by the High-Level Champions with representation of technical experts from UNFCCC institutions. The discussions from the technical track should be reflected in the form of a policymaker’s summary.

Strengthening action

3) How can the facilitative dialogue on action and implementation help Parties identify options to increase ambition through the implementation of existing decisions?

Why take one track when we can take two? This year’s facilitative dialogue should follow a two-track approach: first, a technical track to take stock of progress and identify implementation gaps.

The high level track overseen by the presidency should then provide the opportunity to discuss how the recommendations from the technical track should be taken forward. It should also provide the ministers with a platform to make announcements and pledges towards greater action as well as strengthening their own commitments. These discussions should then be reflected in a chair’s summary to be forwarded to the COP for its consideration. Said summary could be noted by the COP and its intent reflected within decisions from COP22 too. Overall, the two tracks make for a nice package to increase ambition.
4) How can the Global Climate Action Agenda and the work of the Champions be strengthened?
All mitigation initiatives associated with the UNFCCC should adhere to a set of strong, guiding criteria to ensure positive impact and avoid greenwashing. Giving the UN stamp of approval to greenwashers will undermine the UNFCCC’s credibility and make the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C more difficult to achieve. The process to develop criteria should be announced at COP22, and be facilitated by the Champions.

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Patricia Espinosa, Welcome!

Ms. Espinosa—a hearty welcome back to the climate scene in your new role as UNFCCC Executive Secretary. Now is a crucial time for action, and we don’t want to waste it with formalities, so let’s just say—bienvenida y muchas felicidades.

We know that you have already rolled up your sleeves for the big tasks ahead. ECO will be a true companion in your new adventure—providing useful insights on the UNFCCC negotiations throughout your journey. We hope that you will be an advocate for climate issues on all fronts, to ensure the importance of the climate change is elevated to the level required for enabling true global action. Here are some pointers for the way ahead:

With the diplomatic success of the Paris Agreement behind us, we are now moving from ratification to implementation. ECO counts on you to play a central role in ensuring early entry into force and fostering increased ambition from countries to close the emission gap and get on track for 1.5ºC.

In the appointed high-level champions on the Global Climate Action Agenda (GCAA), you have 2 powerful advocates to help strengthen the pre-2020 process and early action. The Technical Examination Processes for mitigation and adaptation need to be results-focused and identify concrete next steps to overcome barriers to scaling-up specific, credible and impactful initiatives. The success of the GCAA rests on the robustness of the criteria for the participation and accountability measures in place.

To increase ambition on climate action, a careful process will be required to ensure that the 2016 and 2018 facilitative dialogues and the 2023 Global Stocktake are successful. These are key institutional elements, and ECO strongly advises their careful design and planning, including the modalities of the Global Stocktake. These are moments to enhance political momentum and increase ambition.

Civil society plays a pivotal role in all aspects and levels of effective climate policies. ECO has constantly raised concerns about shrinking civil society space in the UNFCCC, with increased closed meetings in informal negotiation settings. ECO counts on you to take up this matter to ensure that the UNFCCC adheres to the principles enshrined in the Aarhus Convention. Civil society can play a key role in getting countries to revise their inadequate NDCs and to maintain momentum for increased political will.

Finally, the geopolitical and macroeconomic issues in leaving fossil fuels behind us are huge. They involve powerful multinationals transforming their business models and entire countries transforming their economies. But it must be done, and we need leaders who are willing to say this repeatedly and openly. ECO hopes that you are one of these many needed leaders.

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Finally… Loss and Damage Discussions in Bonn

It’s great to see there is an official place to take up the issue of loss and damage at this Bonn session. Thanks to the Presidency for holding a special event on Tuesday afternoon! This is timely and urgent.

COP22 must deliver two outcomes related to the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM) – its review and a new 5-year work plan. The review provides an opportunity to gather perspectives from governments and observers on whether the WIM lives up to the challenge and how it can be improved. ECO would like to remind negotiators that, in Paris, they agreed on the need to enhance action and support for addressing loss and damage. While there are discussions related to the timing of the review, we hope Parties will find a solution that allows for a substantive review including civil society input at a quick pace.

The 5-year work plan will shape the future trajectory of the WIM. Yet the implementation of the current work plan is not sufficiently advanced to draft well-founded recommendations. Should Parties agree on a skeleton of the 5-year work plan and provide further guidance next year? Or should they extend the current work plan and initiate substantive discussions on the way forward to be approved by COP23? Or should they find ways to flesh out objectives and activities in the next few months? In any case, the ExCom and Parties need to write in bold letters into their drafts: enhance action and support!

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Confused on Conflicts (Of Interest)

ECO is confused. In last Wednesday’s SBI contact group on Arrangement for Intergovernmental Meetings (AIM), a number of Parties and civil society representatives raised concerns. While they recognise the importance of enhancing participation by observer organisations, they are concerned about the potential conflicts of interest that may arise when the UNFCCC engages with observers with a commercial interest. Parties requested that rules on conflicts of interest be established to protect the integrity of the UNFCCC.

Attempting to meet Parties’ concerns on Thursday, the Secretariat set out the rules in place for both the observer admission process and the UNFCCC’s engagement with the private sector (respectively UNFCCC Rules of Procedure and the UN Guidelines on Cooperation between the United Nations and the Business Sector). But, here’s the tension: neither address conflicts of interest.

So, how is the UNFCCC identifying and addressing conflicts of interest of potential observers? Now you see why we’re confused.

But we’re also worried. The Paris Agreement swings the door wide open to non-state actors, including the private sector, to enhance climate action and engage in the policymaking process. While the objectives of the UNFCCC are to protect people and the planet from the effects of climate change, and therefore act for the common good, the private sector’s objectives are first and foremost to maximise profits. Entities with conflicting interests engaging in the policymaking process could create numerous conflicts that the UNFCCC currently has no process in place to address.

For example, when an observer organisation representing the commercial interests of its private sector members is able to use its access to slow, derail or direct the outcomes of negotiations toward the interests of its members, that is a conflict of interest. And if Parties and the UNFCCC want real and timely solutions to climate change, this must be rectified.

Given the new and unprecedented level of private sector engagement, ECO urges Parties and the UNFCCC to protect the integrity and legitimacy of the UNFCCC, its Parties, and its outcomes by developing a due diligence process to safeguard against conflicts of interest.

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A Busy Agenda For the New “Climate Queen”

ECO wants to provide a hearty welcome to Ambassador Patricia Espinosa to replace everyone’s favourite Tica.

The incoming UNFCCC head as a highly respected diplomat, who thoroughly knows the climate issue and appreciates how fundamental trust and an inclusive approach are for progress. However, diplomacy is not enough. We need ambition, equity and means of implementation. And we need them fast!

The 2018 facilitative dialogue is the ideal moment for countries to bring their NDCs in line with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement. Espinosa can champion early ratification and early entry into force. But she will mindfully ensure that finance pledges made by wealthy nations must be adequate to fund mitigation and adaptation actions in developing countries. She’ll need to help build the critical review and reporting system on whether countries are meeting their commitments. And she’ll be dealing with some tough customers – national industries and private companies pushing back against the rapid low-carbon transition that we so urgently need.

The role of non-state actors in implementing the Agreement—especially indigenous peoples, NGOs, cities and the private sector—will be essential. Espinosa must commit to continue making the UNFCCC more inclusive and participatory.

The Mexican government and national NGOs alike are delighted with the news of Espinosa’s nomination. ECO welcomes the opportunity for the Mexican government to open the door even wider to national NGO participation. NGOs should be allowed to bring onboard their skills and expertise to support the revision of the Mexican NDC and spur its rapid implementation.

ECO wishes Ambassador Espinosa all the best. We have high hopes of being able to toast the early entry into force of the Paris Agreement as well as a successful 2018 facilitative dialogue with some of Mexico’s finest tequila. ¡Salud!

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