Party and non-party dialogue or…a non-party monologue at COP24?
29/12/2018 - Party and non-party dialogue or…a non-party monologue at COP24? - By Anya Coutinho
During the first week at COP24 ULB Inside COPs attended an informal meeting between party and non-party stakeholders. Who are they and what is it all about? Here is a short overview of the meeting and our remarks.
Unlike Parties, which are the states taking official decisions in climate negotiations, the non-parties are non-governmental or inter-governmental organizations admitted as observers at sessions of the Convention Bodies in framework of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). These have access to many meetings and can participate in the discussions of some of them, thus making the process of negotiations more legitimate and inclusive. They organized themselves in loose groups which have various, but clustered interests and perspectives, called constituencies. Each constituency has a focal point (which is in reality a representative who speaks on behalf of his/her constituency) cooperating with the Convention Bodies. Cooperation between constituency focal points and the Secretariat allows the latter to maintain effective interaction with interested stakeholders.
The evolved system of constituencies which showed to be flexible and manageable, allowed a large number of observer organizations to take part in climate negotiations process. You can learn more about constituencies and their involvement in climate negotiations in the brief “Qui participe aux COPs?” written by one of the members of our team, Juliette Garain.
In fact, these organizations started to communicate and engage in negotiation process much before the formal establishment of constituencies. They were active almost since the creation of the climate change convention. Back then, business, industry and environmental groups have already created systemic channels of communication with the UNFCCC Secretariat and the Parties. Currently there are more than 1,400 admitted observer organizations which make part of nine (9) UNFCCC constituencies. These are Business & Industry NGOs (BINGO), Environmental NGOs (ENGO), Farmers & Agricultural NGOs (Farmers), Indigenous Peoples Organizations (IPO), Local Government & Municipal Authorities (LGMA), Research & Independent NGOs (RINGO), Trade Union NGOs (TUNGO), Women & Gender Constituency (WGC), Youth NGOs (YUNGO). It’s worth noting that the number of ENGO representatives may reach the highest attendance among all 9 constituencies, which is about 37.6 % (Fig.1).
How does it work in reality? During the climate negotiations at COP24 several meetings between party and non-party stakeholders took place. Some members of our team have attended one of them. The panel included Mr. Michał Kurtyka, President-designate of COP 24 and Chair of the meeting, H.E. Amabassador Artur Lorkowski. The main goal of this meeting was to organize a respectful exchange of ideas between party and non-party stakeholders. Indeed, non-state actors provide useful input for the needs and means for climate action, and thus are important for negotiations. The main subject of this meeting was “Just Transition in the context of the IPCC Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5°C”. It started with the introductory speech given by Mr. Kurtyka. Later on, representatives of 9 constituencies approached the issue of climate action each in their own perspective.
Several key points were addressed by the representatives. One of them was the declaration on just transition to be signed by the Parties. Several groups expressed their concern in regard to the implementation and challenges related to just transition, while looking forward to continuing working with the Polish Presidency on this matter. Another issue was the top-down approach to find solutions for climate action and transparency in the climate negotiations process. As building trust between state and non-state actors is crucial to reach success in climate action, Trade Unions for example highlighted the fact that climate policy in general, and just transition in particular still didn’t gain people’s trust. It was said that limited vision of some policy-makers who are not open to negotiate are an obstacle for people’s trust, and hence for their cooperation. Although the Polish initiative for social dialogue in just transition was very welcomed by Trade Unions, they expect concrete measures and implementation results.
All the constituencies shared with participants their concerns and ideas. The Global South in just transition, the gender issue, collective progress of the Parties, financial commitments, “loss and damages” and the necessity of making the financial process more democratic were among them. All of it is closely related to the just transition, which according to some stakeholders many people perceive as a sole fact of having a job. Another important question raised by e.g. YOUNGO was the fact that the just transition is mentioned very vaguely in the Paris Agreement (PA), and therefore must be “more developed and clarified in the way to achieve the climate goals”.
After the representatives’ speeches, the floor was open for discussion with the Parties. However, only very few Parties made their interventions. The European Union broke the ice to make several remarks. After that, few short remarks were made by Fiji, Norway and UK. These concerned the public-private partnership, the participation of children in the negotiations and the equality in the Global South.
Several non-party stakeholders addressed questions to the panel. One of them was to the COP presidency and was related to the night reception on the previous day. The fact that the meal choice included a large amount of meat created a lot of resonance and raised many questions among the non-parties, since cattle raising is one of the highly polluting activities in terms of CO2 emissions. The participant expressed the concern in regard to the “meat” question which seems still not to be addressed with all due attention despite the effort made by Poland to increase its energy efficiency in the COP24 facilities.
Another question raised by the non-parties was related to the subsidies for “climate justice” and just transition. They underlined that the latter requires public institutional and financial support. Furthermore, the non-parties are interested in knowing how it will be ensured.
All in all, it seemed to us that in this meeting the non-parties were much more pro-active in the discussion than the Parties. Why? Very few Party representatives took the floor and the total time of their intervention was short if compared with the one from the constituencies. Moreover, many constituencies addressed the fact that they were not consulted in agenda preparation which means that they didn’t have a chance to express their views in regard to the issues discussed during the meeting. One of the organizations also pointed out that nobody in the panel was taking notes of this meeting which means that there would be no record of the remarks and suggestions from the participants. Thus, the question rises. Is it a dialogue at all? Are the Parties interested in listening and engaging in this dialogue? One of the views expressed at that meeting suggested that the Polish presidency didn’t encourage enough the Parties to participate in this dialogue…While searching for the answers, we note that many Parties either were not present at the meeting or simply decided not to take the floor. This could be interpreted in different ways, but in any case, creates reasonable doubts about the inclusiveness of the process (regarding the non-state actors) and their role in negotiations.