Statement regarding cost recovery policy on behalf of all observer constituencies

8 June 2014

Even though the Secretariat and Parties keep saying that civil society plays a critical role in the negotiations, there’s very little they’re doing to help us participate effectively. The proposed cost recovery policy for side events and exhibits is a case in point. The following is the collective response on behalf of all non-governmental observer constituencies, which offers to work with the Secretariat and Parties to find a real and sustainable solution. Why not give us more than four days and an open and participatory process to do so.

On behalf of the constituencies representing business and industry, research groups, indigenous peoples organisations, environmental groups, women and gender, trade unions, local government and municipal authorities, farmers and youth, we would like to express our concern regarding the policy on cost recovery announced in the Secretariat’s information note dated June 4th. This policy threatens to undermine the quality of observer participation in the UNFCCC process.

From its beginning, the UNFCCC has recognised the value of observer participation, most recently during Thursday’s Article 6 dialogue on public participation. Within the SBI negotiations and workshops, numerous ministerial statements and today’s discussion, the Secretariat and Parties have repeatedly acknowledged the “crucial and integral” role of observers in and the value of our contributions to this process. 

Despite this widespread recognition, the proposed cost recovery policy would effectively exclude many voices that cannot afford to pay the new costs, and threaten the credibility and legitimacy as well as mutual trust that have been established within this process. It would also undermine our ability to share diverse views and to present current research and innovative solutions to this complex problem. 

This policy – which essentially shifts the burden from Parties to observers – would have significant impacts on our ability to engage in, inform and influence the process. Many observer organisations face significant resource and capacity constraints and, as recognised by the Secretariat, have limited opportunities to share their views and perspectives. The voices of civil society, in particular organisations from developing countries and regions and other groups representing those most vulnerable, will be further marginalised if the right to speak is premised on the ability to pay.

As we’ve demonstrated in the past, we are committed to working with the Secretariat and Parties to find solutions together. We are willing to work with the Secretariat to find a real solution that doesn’t link financial contribution to the ability of observers to effectively participate in this process.  In the interim, we urge you to put this policy on hold until other options have been considered through a transparent and participatory process, involving the constituencies, which is critical to protecting diverse points of view and ensuring legitimate outcomes.

Let us work together to find a solution.

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