I asked the APA Co-Chairs 3 Questions

Picture credit: IISD

Today’s quite an occasion. The Youth Constituency, YOUNGO, was packed with back to back dialogues with the incoming COP24 Presidency, co-chairs of Ad Hoc Working Group on the Paris Agreement (APA), the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) with observer organisations, followed by a bilateral meeting with the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa. An eventful day calls for a busy preparation – and that was what exactly happened today.

YOUNGO was eager to get work started and the group convened right after the YOUNGO Spokescouncil, which begins at 9am everyday. As I have been tracking the global stocktake under the APA since COP23, I naturally leaned towards drafting talking points for the APA session, which in turn led me into a coordinator position to get a group drafting together.

YOUNGO working at the cafeteria

Before attending the SB48-2 Bangkok session, MYD has had pre-briefing sessions on what to expect at Bangkok. We familiarized ourselves with the Joint Reflections Note by the Presiding Officers of the APA, SBSTA and SBI, to equip our knowledge on the items that will be discussed in Bangkok. This intersessional, in particular, takes place as a follow up to the 1/CP.21 mandate, that calls for the subsidiary bodies to advance the work of the Paris Agreement Working Programme (PAWP) in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

The Joint Reflections Note gives a clear idea on what the Bangkok session will work on, and as a guideline to ensure that PAWP is delivered in a well manner. Gearing up for the dialogue, the APA Co-Chairs, Jo Tyndall from New Zealand and Sarah Baashan from Saudi Arabia, went through an overview of the Agenda of the APA first session, and I, only behalf of YOUNGO, put forward a couple of questions, as below:

1. For Agenda Item 6, the Global Stocktake, what is the expected outcome by the end of SB48-2? Will there be enough time to be turned into a draft decision by the Co-Chairs, looking at it now when there is still a need to raise ambitions, work on design of the GST focusing on modalities and overarching elements, and ensure that sufficient timing is allocated to the activities of GST?

2.   Item 8.a: How will co-chairs aim to ensure a stronger commitment to the adaptation fund, particularly in light of the disproportionate amount of projects under the GCF being mitigation-focused? Further, what is being done to restructure the selection process of projects at the GCF, such as to improve funding access for small-scale projects?

3.   Overarching question: in the very last hours, how do we ensure that parties adhere to the process? We don’t want any texts parachuted at the last minute. Yes it’s important to be flexible, but how do we overcome political differences?

The Co-Chairs addressed our questions diplomatically and answered as below:

1.   In GST, there is a need to set clear objectives and look as far is possible. The GST aims for a draft decision at the end of Bangkok; if not a draft decision substance that can be easily converted.

2.   Adaptation must be put in place to ensure that adaptation fund serves the Paris Agreement. However the question posed is beyond mandate.

3.   It is clear that we don’t want last minute text. Nobody wants that. The question is, how long do people want to hold on to their decisions? And when is the right time to make concessions here and there, like a trade-off?

Initially I was skeptical in asking these questions, or purpose of the dialogue for that matter, as I knew that Co-Chairs won’t give straight forward answers (and most of the time, answers that we already know). However, the one lesson that I learned from today over lunch with Meena Raman from Third World Network is that the purpose of the dialogue session is not so much on the answer that the Co-Chairs give, but the importance of voicing out and being aware that the issues brought up are being heard and recorded. “Always leave with a simple message of “We Are Watching,” said Meena.

Also, did I mention that the Co-Chairs are really pretty?


Note: Jasmin was also featured in the International Institute for Sustainable Development highlights at the Bangkok Climate Change Conference here: http://enb.iisd.org/climate/sb48-2/5sep.html

Written by Jasmin

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