Eco Digital Blog
CAN-International recently sent the following letter to Ban Ki Moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations in order to inform his search for a replace to Yvo de Boer, who announced he will be stepping down later this year as Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Dear Mr. Secretary-General:
As the world’s largest network of NGOs collaborating on global solutions to the climate crisis, with an active engagement with the UNFCCC process since its inception, we at the Climate Action Network – International wish to support your efforts to fill the vacancy left by Yvo de Boer’s impending departure.
As you continue your search for a new head of the UNFCCC, we urge you to keep the following principles in mind while assessing potential candidates:
1. Commitment to the science: The fundamental objective of the UNFCCC under Article 2 is to avoid dangerous climate change. This objective has guided and should always guide the work of its Secretariat. As such, any head of the UNFCCC must have a sound understanding and fundamental adherence to the scientific basis for combating climate change, applying the precautionary principle in order to ensure the Convention fulfills its objective.
2. Political savvy and leadership: The UNFCCC in conjunction with global civil society has been successful in raising the profile and urgency of climate change effectively at the highest levels. Over 100 Heads of State attended Copenhagen and their continued engagement is both expected and essential. In this context, the new head of the UNFCCC must be able to thoroughly engage leaders and governments at every political level. This skill set must also include the strategic use of media, public attention, and private discourse.
3. Understanding of and experience with the negotiations: As our collective understanding of the climate crisis deepens, the negotiations within the UNFCCC continue to become more complex. Add to that the many challenging procedural dynamics and negotiating tactics, and it becomes clear that any candidate must demonstrate a deep understanding of how negotiations are to be managed from both procedural and strategic perspectives. Better still would be direct experience in the negotiations, to enable a deeper understanding as well as garnering trust from parties.
The choices leaders make this week will determine whether the world achieves a tipping point. A tipping point into a new era of cooperation and solidarity, or a disastrous tipping point in the climate system leading to direct conflict about the remaining environmental space.
The world demands nothing less than a Fair, Ambitious and Binding (FAB) deal. Three major gaps can and must be bridged in the remaining time: the gap between current emission reduction pledges and the science; the gap between the finances on the table and the need in developing countries; and – perhaps most critically – the gap between nations where trust must be forged. We clearly need a radical transformation.
ECO has written before about the “gigatonnes gap.” Put simply, the emission reductions currently on the table, from developed and developing countries, will fail to meet the challenge posed by the science. Independent experts ranging from Lord Stern to McKinsey for Project Catalyst and Ecofys/PIK, show that we are way off track for staying well below 2°C, not to mention 1.5°C, which the latest science and most vulnerable countries demand.
Will the doors slam shut at this highest-profile climate negotiations in Copenhagen this week? Will civil society, which has played such a constructive and vital role in the Conference so far, be left out in the cold by unjustifiable restrictions on access – well beyond the legitimate security needs of the Conference?
Accountability and transparency at these negotiations are a must, and cannot be secured without direct public participation. Civil society brings insight, oversight and connection to people around the world who depend on the work of NGOs to pursue the credibility of the process and integrity of the outcome.
The Rio Summit-derived Agenda 21 aptly observes: “One of the major challenges facing the world community as it seeks to replace unsustainable development patterns with environmentally sound and sustainable development is the need to activate a sense of common purpose on behalf of all sectors of society.” How can civil society get onto the same page if we’re not in the building when the real work is being done?