Getting the hang of SB48-2

I left Malaysia to Bangkok without knowing what to expect. Prior to coming for this session here in Bangkok, I had zero idea on what negotiations in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) would look like.  Sure, I had read pages upon pages of articles about the UNFCCC negotiation process as a whole and also topics discussed here in the UNFCCC, but that did not give me enough insights on how negotiations work.

Amongst all the topics discussed in the UNFCCC, technology development and transfer had interest me the most, and hence I have been following closely on negotiations regarding technology throughout my attendance here in SB48-2. Why technology? Why not other fancy topics like finance or adaptation and mitigation? Well, I don’t know. Something about the word ‘technology’ caught my eye when I was skimming through an article, and therefore I dived straight into reading articles and documents related to technology development and transfer.

During the strategy meeting with Climate Action Network (CAN) held just a day before the official opening of SB48-2, I finally made up my mind to join the CAN working group on technology. I had no idea what working groups in CAN are for. Based on my understanding, working groups are just teams that were formed within an organisation to work on particular matters. Nonetheless, it wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be.

On the first meeting for the CAN technology working group, I introduced myself as a youth delegate of Malaysia and had specifically told everyone about how I am new to the entire process of UNFCCC. They too, introduced themselves and had made me feel welcome before getting to work. However, just minutes into the discussion, I found myself lost. I swear that I had read many articles about technology development and transfer, but whatever they were discussing about was alien to me.

SBI informal consultations on Technology Mechanism
Picture by Kiara Worth

Negotiations too, wasn’t how I had expected them to be. During the first three days, I went to all informal consultations related to technology development and transfer, expecting them to be interesting to observe. I did not see the point as to why a bunch of adults from all over the world huddle annually just to give comments on a document. But as usual, I took notes of everything (which I know that I will never read), from major changes of inclusion of new paragraphs to minor punctuation changes. I found the negotiations boring – it felt just like sitting in a lecture hall with a boring lecturer (or worse).

On the fourth day of negotiations however, it suddenly struck me that negotiations aren’t just about editing a long document. While I was taking notes during one of the informal consultations,  I started to think everything through, and I realised that Parties were all editing the text not just because they were unhappy about how a sentence was phrased, but rather how the words would put unwanted commitments on their respective countries.

Daily ECO news article by CAN

Also, everything that the members of the working group had discussed earlier started to make sense, and I now understand that working groups in CAN exist so that members of the group can discuss and analyse decisions that were made in negotiations. In every meeting for the working group, we decide if CAN’s position is aligned with the negotiation outcome. Our stance regarding issues related to technology development and transfer will then be published on ECO, the daily newsletter operated by CAN at the UNFCCC. This ensures that our position is heard by the general public as well as negotiators of SB48-2.

Aside from observing negotiations and contributing to my working group, my days in Bangkok were filled with networking. No, I did not walk up to random people outside negotiation rooms just to network (unlike most of the people). I networked because looking for an empty table in the UN building was almost impossible. Albeit being forced into conversing with people,  I have definitely enjoyed it as it allows me to understand the ordinary lives of people and listen to their stories.

Sure, it may be intimidating at times, but I definitely do not regret my decision of coming to Bangkok.

Written by Kitty Chen
Peer reviewed by Jasmin Irisha

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