My observation after a week of COP21 negotiations

This is how hectic and crowded Hall 6 can be. Spot the Climate Change TV behind!

This is how hectic and crowded Hall 6 can be. Spot the Climate Change TV behind!

After a few days of tracking and running around we found out that tracking negotiators is HARD. They are busy until they don’t even have time to eat. Their schedules are highly uncertain, as immediate changes or postpones or even cancellation of meetings are the norms. Meals and toilet breaks are on-the-run.

Based on our observations, negotiators are multi-tasking all the time. Their brain never stops, literally. You see them texting and typing during meeting; whispering with their team in between discussions. Everything is really intensed. They basically start their day at 8am with meetings, end their day at evening, sometimes after midnight (in the second week).

It took us some time to understand the different types of meeting. As I am mostly following the main text agreement, the meetings that I always went are those under the ADP ones. Other meetings by different bodies such as the Subsidiary bodies (SBSTA & SBI) and LPAA (Lima-Paris Action Agenda) are ongoing at the same time too.

Basically, ADP meetings consists of spin-off groups and contact groups. Contact group is an open-ended meeting that work on crosscutting issues and items not associated with agreement articles, where the parties negotiate before forwarding the agreed text for formal adoption in a plenary. Whereas spin-off groups work on the individual articles in draft agreement and their respective decision text.

Facilitators are appointed by the UNFCCC secretariat to facilitate and speed up the contact groups and spin-off groups. Sometimes, there are informal meetings too such as informal contact groups or informal consultations to let group of delegates to meet in private to discuss and consolidate views. Besides that, each party blocs do have their own daily coordination meetings are meant for each bloc (e.g. LMDC coordination meeting, or G77 & China daily coordination meeting) to ensure the bloc comes to a consensus on certain topic or discuss strategies for daily’s negotiations on how to deal with other blocs.

How a typical meeting room set up looks like. Screens are provided for negotiators to read the instant changes in the text upon discussion

How a typical meeting room set up looks like. Screens are provided for negotiators to read the instant changes in the text upon discussion

In the meetings, we also found it hard in the beginning to identify who are the speakers because no country flags are placed in small scale meetings as the negotiators know each others well. We were also quite lost in the beginning of the pace of discussion, mainly because of all the jargons that we came across (e.g. we support LMDC suggestion on article X, paragraph Y that blah blah… However, AILAC mentioned in article Z paragraph S…).

Newcomers, like us, are not familiar with the text would take more time to absorb what exactly was the spokesperson referring to. So it is not surprised to see how attendees in meetings including the negotiators themselves bringing a hardcopy of the text full of highlights and remarks along with them all the time!

Logistically, I found out that the soundproof facility between rooms to rooms are not that good. It makes me wonder how can the negotiations carried out in peace, confidentially? (oops, hope they didn’t overlooked this part).

Securities are pretty tight too especially closed meetings where every single person will be checked on their badges before entering the room by the United Nations own security force. Some of the contact groups even needed special secondary badges to enter!  The so-called CCTV (climate change TV) is literally everywhere in HALL 6 to showed the up-to-date schedule and also sometimes, broadcasting live closed meetings. Sometimes, many of the important closed meetings happened parallel with each other. This raised concern to the negotiators, and Malaysia voiced this up several times to the chair and secretariat. Not to mention, Malaysia pushed to open some other closed meetings to be opened to observers for transparency purpose! Another proud moment for Malaysians *Jumps and feeling proud*

Written by: Emily

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