Addressing Concerns Before COP24

The Bilateral Meeting Panel with Mr Michal Kurtyka (second from right)

Bilateral Meeting between the incoming COP24 Polish Presidency and various CSOs was held on Day 2 of SB48.2 in Bangkok. COP President Mr Michal Kurtyka began the session by expressing his eagerness to meet the CSOs- and hoped that numerous representatives will be at Katowice. Kurtyka also encouraged more participation of civil society organizations and wanted to hear their opinions as a preparatory for the road to Katowice. Kurtyka carried on by stating how this era of social media was an important part of COP as it ensures that adequate, transparent information regarding the COP ongoings will be disseminated. Before moving on to theQ&A Session, Kurtyka stressed how important it was for COP24, to arrive at an integrated text at the Bangkok session, to which the audience audibly agreed.

Many questions were raised by the various bodies present at the bilateral, among them were YOUNGO (Youth NGOs), BINGO (Business NGOs), CAN (Climate Action Network), IPO (Indigenous peoples organization), ENGO (environmental NGOs), and WGC (Women and Gender Constituency).

Some of the notable questions posed by the observer bodies are as below:

  1. YOUNGO Focal Point, Yugratna Srivastava raised a question regarding the restrictions on CSO participation. She asked for updates on the matter and if it will affect acquiring visas for participants, especially youth groups of the Global South. Yugratna also requested funding for several CSO delegates to Pre Cop, to be held in Krakow from the 21st to 24th October. Subsequently, she also requested an estimation on participant accreditation for NGOs for the upcoming COP24.
  2. The WGC followed up YOUNGO’s question regarding CSO restrictions. Their  representative asked what the real reason was behind the safety and security bill that restricted CSO participation, despite them making a statement saying they wanted the COP24 to be particularly open.
  3. An ENGO representative revisited the last Polish-hosted COP issue, whereby approximately 800 people walked out of the venue due to mobility restrictions. The representative echoed the concerns on restrictions as well as the ability of civil societies to mobilise and organize around the city of Katowice.
  4. The IPO stated that indigenous people are one of the key stakeholders. The IPO would also like to know how the cop presidency plans to help indigenous people  in terms of the dialogue for the upcoming COP negotiations. The representative also asked how the presidency will ensure the voices of the indigenous people will be heard, as they had been restricted in Bangkok, without getting intervention space during both opening and closing plenaries, stating “we can’t allow people to talk about us without us.”

Kurtyka acknowledged each question and addressed them individually, starting with YOUNGO. Unfortunately he did not have enough knowledge on the subject of visas in terms of global South and youths, but did assure us that while it would be challenging to coordinate between the Polish bodies all over the world, the Polish ministry of foreign affairs will be working to ease access. On the matter of Pre COP, Kurtyka explained that the programme and scheme of the event has yet to be finalised, as it depends on this Bangkok session. On the participation numbers, Kurtyka stated that the logistics team is working on getting aid from Germany and France in order to secure visas. He also added that COP24 is expecting to garner  around 23,000 to 24, 000 participants this year, citing the weather as a contribution to that low number, as well as the fact that COP participation numbers has decreased periodically over the years.

Regarding the question raised by the WGC, Kurtyka replied with reference to observer capacity of the venue which will determine the quota. The most newsworthy statement Kurtyka made was the method he plans to use to combat the problem of having tens of thousands of people at a small city like Katowice: daily badging system. This new method would require participants to select the particular dates they would like to attend, instead of the usual selection of week one or week two.

Addressing the questions from ENGO and IPO, Kurtyka stated that Poland is the country of Solidarność, the Polish Trade Union that translates to solidarity. The biggest trade union created was also a major contribution to Poland’s changes in history. Kurtyka intends to provide space for every single human being to express themselves at COP24. He is looking for ways to engage with civil societies using various means of communication, including social media. He also expressed his desire to make everyone feel like this COP is their own. He continued by saying how he wants to organize a discussion with the indigenous people. Kurtyka also acknowledged  the concerned raised by civil societies in taking adequate part during opening sessions, and will include that in his reflection on how best to run Katowice. Kurtyka has also requested the association of the previous COP presidencies to ensure the success of Katowice. He plans to form a council of previous COP presidents in order to learn from the past, and exchange ideas on how to preserve the spirit of the Paris Agreement in the text that is about to be negotiated. Reiterated Kurtyka, “it is very important for Poland to keep up with the spirit of the signed Paris Agreement in 2015.”

The bilateral ended with Kurtyka expressing his happiness that the meeting took place, and would like to continue discussions such as these in hopes for numerous participation at COP24.

Written by: Abirami Baskaran

Edited by: Shaqib Shahril

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