Talk transparently, countries and NGOs demand

Climate negotiations come under scanner yet again for being unfair to smaller nations, civil society 

Aditya Ghosh

Bonn, June 13: The UNFCCC climate talks were once again accused of being unfair and not inclusive, this time by Venezuela and a host of NGO observers, in Bonn. Too much fragmentation was not fulfilling the cause of a transparent negotiation, these groups claimed. 

Speaking at the contact group session of AWG-LCA, the South American nation alleged that formation of too many expert, technical and spin-off groups, spread across workshops, contact, informal meetings made it impossible for smaller nations to take meaningful part in the negotiation process. 

The climate talks in Bonn, after starting last week, have limped all the way through and been mired in procedural matters than achieving any progress. Though procedural clarity and technicalities form a vital basis of negotiations to move forward, the biggest stumbling block remains in the form of political commitments.

Venezuela received support from Nicaragua and Ecuador who also felt that too many meetings of different kinds were going on simultaneously making it impossible for smaller countries with fewer negotiators to participate in all of them. 

“In the process smaller nations like us are getting excluded from many of the debates because of absence of sheer numbers in our camp,” said the Venezuelan negotiator. “We are moving away from the good work done at Cancun on inclusion and getting back to separatism here in Bonn,” said the Nicaraguan delegate.

The Venezuelan delegate also said that her country was disappointed the way these numerous meetings and workshops were organized. “We, like many other smaller countries, never get to know what is going on and which session would be up next. Many of these sessions are also organized simultaneously that hardly offers any possibility to us to attend them,” she said.

With most of the meetings closed to NGO observers and limited access for them to interact with the process, the civil society has been a disgruntled lot. Alyssa Johl, of the Washington-based Centre for International Environmental Law, complained that there were far too many “closed door” negotiating sessions, and that civil society observers had been “shut out of several meetings” at the talks.

Following protests, UNFCCC Secretariat eventually granted NGOs to participate in a follow-up session to this consultation but allocated only nine minutes in total for observer constituencies which gives environment NGOs just one minute to speak. 

The USA has also been consistent in its efforts to have as many informal sessions, workshops, parallel technical meetings that many developing countries felt undermined the process of UNFCCC. “It is any day better to have it under the aegis of UNFCCC than informally, the sessions must be formal in nature,” said the Bolivian negotiator.


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