8th Nov 2017 marks the first time in the history of UNFCCC that a dialogue between parties (countries) and non-Party stakeholders were held during COP. Paving for this achievement, the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) extensively discussed on the ways to include non-Party stakeholders, of which CSOs are a part of, back in its forty-sixth session in May 2017. According to the session, they want to seek “opportunities to further enhance the effective engagement of non-Party stakeholders with a view to strengthening the implementation of the provisions of decision 1/CP.21”
In accordance with this emphasis, it is not surprising that the Fijian presidency agreed to have an Open Dialogue on 8th November 2017 with parties and non-Party stakeholders on one substantive issue – NDC Enhancement and Implementation, and one procedural issue – Enhancing observer access to and participation in formal meetings. Everyone (especially the UNFCCC Constituencies) were extremely excited about this because this is the first time the constituencies get to sit at a round-table with parties and convey the discussion. The room was almost filled at 9.45am although the starting time of the event was at 10 am.
The session started with the welcoming speech of the COP23 President, Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama. He specified the importance of this dialogue in accordance with the Talanoa spirit and mentioned that the dialogue should be open and honest in order to recognize what can work and what cannot work. The Executive Secretary for COP23, Patricia Espinosa, in her welcoming message, also highlighted that this is the first time non-party actors are included in the agenda-setting process.
As the dialogue follows the Chatham House Rule, I was unable to identify the speakers. Beginning with the first agenda item on NDC Enhancement and Implementation, different parties highlighted the projects they have back home that contributed to the NDCs. Some mentioned how they co-designed and co-delivered policies along with the non-party stakeholders back home. One party highlighted the importance of private finance and mentioned how they work with the business sector to operationalize the NDCs. Amongst all the description of how-great-we-are-in-engaging-non-party-stakeholders, one party stood out by giving out a rather ambitious comment, stating that the inputs of the non-party stakeholders should be included in the ministerial meeting and that the outcome of the discussion should be communicated to the high-level segments and distributed through press releases.
In between the discussion, the various constituencies also presented their inputs. One of them highlighted the convenience of non-party stakeholders, as they are borderless, implying the power of cross-border collaboration. They threw a subtle burn on the parties by noting NDCs could be better achieved if parties would collaborate instead of working on their own in achieving their NDCs. Others highlighted the knowledge non-party stakeholders could potentially bring to the table and urged more collaboration with non-party stakeholders.
Although the dialogue included the non-party stakeholders, the overall atmosphere of the dialogue gives a vibe of parties saying how great they were, and the non-party stakeholders reiterating what they have always been mentioning. The dialogue may be significant in terms of its existence, however, I doubt it brought any actual changes to the current situation. Parties who are including non-party stakeholders in the process will continue to do so and parties who don’t, do not seem to be interested to change either.
Written by Xiandi
Edited by Varun