ECO was particularly pleased to hear that NGOs were invited to actively participate in the informal consultations on expectations for Durban by the upcoming South African Presidency – especially since they have been mostly excluded from negotiating sessions here in Bonn. However, this pleasure soon turned into dismay when it became clear that NGOs would not be getting a chance to share their views despite the fact the South African Ambassador started the session by expressing South Africa’s commitment to civil society participation. Apparently, the UNFCCC rules and procedures do not allow for observer interventions until all parties have spoken. Well, here is the dilemma – at the last count ECO found that there are 195 Parties under this Convention!
ECO has been informed by the Secretariat that NGOs can participate in the follow-up session to this consultation, to be held today. And here is the rub – they have allocated 9 minutes in total for observer constituencies which gives ENGO’s one minute to speak. Eco is wondering how they will fit in all the expectations they have for Durban in that time.
ECO was also interested to hear that the Ambassador and a number of Parties made reference to South Africa’s unique history – its struggle against Apartheid. ECO would like to remind everyone that this struggle was fought and won by peoples’ movements, both in South Africa and by those in solidarity across the globe. ECO hopes that South Africa, as incoming Presidency of COP 17, will introduce a new culture around NGO participation in the UNFCCC processes. The lessons from the struggle against Apartheid are rich and would only help strengthen this process. Critical to this would be to ensure the real and meaningful participation of civil society, both in the processes leading up to Durban and at COP 17 itself, especially after the Cancún Agreement has mandated South Africa to “undertake inclusive and transparent consultations in order to facilitate the work towards the success of that session.” Amandla Ngawethu! (Power to the People)