Time to Walk the Walk on Civil Society Engagement

9 June 2011

"We can't do this by ourselves"…“NGOs provide a valuable perspective and expertise"…"NGOs support is essential for the success of the UNFCCC process". 

ECO was delighted to hear these statements and many concrete proposals echoing from the plenary hall Wednesday morning at the SBI workshop on NGO participation.  But now, ECO wonders…will they walk the walk?  Talk is nice, and everyone loves to be praised for being valuable (we’ll take it!).  But ECO knows all too well that talk is one thing, action is another.

ECO is hopeful that the report coming out of the workshop, and formal negotiations to (hopefully?) follow in the SBI will take the statements and turn them into positive actions.  Will informals be open to ensure NGOs are able support the process?  Will NGOs be able to provide their “valuable perspective” through more and flexible opportunities to intervene as is common practice in the UNFCCC’s sister convention the CBD?  Many questions remain.

Unfortunately, across the hall from the SBI workshop, there wasn’t much reason for hope for improvements.  At door after door, NGOs were kept out of LCA informals throughout the day.

In a particularly illustrative exchange in the LCA plenary, Tuvalu made a strong case for the opening of the informal group on REDD to observers and indigenous peoples in particular.  Unfortunately, PNG tried to block the idea, alleging among other things that Tuvalu did not have enough trees to allow it to speak on behalf of forest peoples.  Cameroon had the gall to questions whether indigenous peoples groups actually represent indigenous people. ECO questions whether all government here also represent the interests of their people.

ECO urges Parties to listen to their friends who spoke in the SBI workshop and take the comments to heart, both in these days ahead in Bonn and in its work in the SBI to promote longer term improvements to NGO engagement.  We are “essential” after all…or least that’s what we’ve heard from the Parties.

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