MRV: Opaque ‘Transparency’ or Meaningful Participation

ECO finds it heartening that that most Parties see Durban as the time to adopt essential guidelines and modalities on the key MRV issues.  To be sure there are some gaps, which we will return to soon.   

But we’re dismayed to see almost no mention of stakeholder engagement in the November 18th text. It seems that most Parties have forgotten about making the transparency process, well, transparent. The few mentions in the text are incomplete at best.

So why this silence? Here’s a guess: you’ve been too busy focusing on other things. Yes, it’s true that there is a lot to discuss, but let’s remember that stakeholder participation is nothing new for the UNFCCC and must be part of the provisions for IAR and ICA.  There are three key elements that must be reflected in the text: (1) stakeholders must be able to make submissions feeding into the technical review; (2) they must be allowed to pose questions during the SBI process; and of course (3) all documentation from the IAR and ICA be made publicly available.

As IAR and ICA are all about transparency, the meetings under the SBI should be open to stakeholders and allow for their questions at the end of the meeting or, at the very least, in writing in advance.

Stakeholders should also have the opportunity to submit information in advance of the expert technical analysis and sharing of views among Parties. These submissions should be compiled in a stakeholder report as an additional input to be considered along with countries’ biennial (update) reports and the expert technical analysis. NGOs, businesses, universities and municipalities among others all have useful information to address climate change collaboratively. This includes complementary information that would help increase recognition of a country’s efforts, share lessons learned from domestic implementation, and identify support needs and additional mitigation opportunities.  After the review, stakeholders could also help the Party concerned prepare for the next round of reporting and identify relevant financial or capacity building support.

Finally -- and this should really go without saying -- all inputs and outputs of the IAR and ICA process should be made publicly available.  This includes the reports of the technical experts; transcripts of the facilitative sharing of views among Parties; and the outputs from the SBI, including recommendations.  The UNFCCC already makes documents and submissions from Parties and stakeholders publicly available on the web, including all national communications from Parties and the in-depth reviews of Annex I country national communications. So let’s follow that great precedent.

Remember, transparency is an objective of the IAR and ICA processes under decision 1/CP.16.  Also, a commitment to engage stakeholders is enshrined in the Convention and in the Cancun Agreements.  And surely with Rio+20 just around the corner, Parties don’t need to be reminded that Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development established that public participation and access to information are critical in matters relating to the environment, including climate change.

Aren’t you glad the issue is now clear!  ECO is hopeful that Parties will see the light so that IAR and ICA live up to the promise of transparency when they discuss these modalities in informals.