ECO would like to take you down memory lane for a moment and recall the monumental obstacles civil society observers faced in Copenhagen. Thousands were denied access despite being registered to attend the conference, while others were arbitrarily removed from the conference venue for actions taken by other members of their delegations. There was no opportunity to appeal these decisions. This experience highlighted the need for Parties and the UNFCCC Secretariat to address these and other participation concerns.
Today, the SBI will consider this issue once again in an all-day workshop to further develop ways of enhancing civil society engagement. The Parties and the Secretariat have each acknowledged that vibrant public participation increases transparency and trust, and “allows vital experience, expertise, information and perspectives from civil society to be brought into the process to generate new insights and approaches.” But, current processes are not adequate to guarantee these benefits.
ECO, on behalf of our civil society family, makes the following demands:
- Fewer “closed” negotiating sessions, making them the exception rather than the rule (i.e. negotiating sessions, including informal meetings, should be open to observers by default).
- Increased opportunities for interventions by not requiring observers to submit interventions in advance, and by guaranteeing interventions at the end of all sessions with an opportunity to intervene during the session at the chair’s discretion.
- Observer submissions included in official documentation.
- In addition to the formal negotiating process, clear, effective and uniform processes for participation in institutional bodies and mechanisms under the UNFCCC framework, such as the Transitional Committee of the GCF and the Adaptation Fund.
- Access to documentation at the same time as Parties.
- Increased transparency and accountability regarding restrictions on access, which should be imposed only in exceptional circumstances and based on clearly defined criteria.
- An independent committee to consider problems/disputes relating to observer participation.
- ECO looks forward to fully and effectively participating in today’s workshop, and to making progress towards enhanced participation. After all a house becomes a home when everyone has a say in how it is run.