Lastrina’s Thoughts on COP20 So Far
5 days since my last update.
Since my last post, a number of things have been happening.
I have a tendency to be long winded and go through things one by one. Reading Juliana’s post, Zen’s post, Christl’s post, and Siang Yu’s post, and I realise they have done feature stories. I think the effect of having a long day is taking its effect on me, and writing in the wee hours is making me talk to myself a lot.
At this point, after attending three days of COP20, I have to admit the overall feeling I get is this overwhelmed feeling, that I think mostly come from the fact that there are just too many things going on at COP20. You can have a look at the Daily Programme of Day 1, Day 2 or Day 3 of COP20 and see for yourself the extent of choices an individual has even if he or she has an “Observer” status only .
I’ve been keeping myself safe by attending most of the Side Events and visiting the Exhibits. Side Events are like regular talks and presentations and workshop sessions. Of course, at COP level, one would see this as having the opportunity or access to high-level speakers. I took notes of the ones that I attended and would probably talk about the Side Events in a separate post. For now, do check out the Side Events page and read the description. Some speakers also passed their presentations which you can find under the Attachment column.
So, my personal strategy was to get comfortable with Side Events and at the same time sit in for the CMP/SBSTA/SBI/ADP meetings. These Contact Groups, informal consultations, workshops and other meetings of the Convention and Protocol bodies would be more relevant for Parties and Observer States. As a first timer to COP, I was not ready for this part of COP. To be able to follow these meetings, truly effectively, one should have a good background knowledge of the texts they are talking about. And to be honest, I have very superficial knowledge of all these different bodies and their texts. Melissa always reminds me, reminds us, not to be too hard on ourselves. It is our first time. For her, she is able to follow through because she has been doing this for 5 years. Her work and studies is all about climate change. She breathes and lives it. We don’t. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t start learning now.
So, yesterday at Day 2 of COP20, I sat in for an SBI agenda item on “Work programme to further the understanding of the diversity of nationally appropriate mitigation actions (NAMAs),” an informal consultations co-facilitated by Ms. Ann Gann (Singapore) and Mr. Dimitar Nikov (France). And today at Day 3 of COP20, I sat in for ADP meeting on item 3 (focus on draft decision on advancing the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action, paragraphs 1-6 followed by paragraphs 7-22).
Briefly, for SBI item;
- How can we better understand Singapore’s role in the negotiation, particularly in issues of NAMAs?
- I am not sure how it was worded in the text exactly. I know it is a 2 year work programme that is supposed to end in 2014, which is here in Lima. But after that, what happens to it I’m not sure. I mean, we can’t just put aside all the hard work done.
- I heard a number of developing country Parties proposing that this work programme continues. They still want to have more information, technology and capacity-building support.
- I also heard at least two developed country Parties firm in their stand that this work programme should end here in Lima.
- If NAMAs work programme ends, how does this affect the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)?
Briefly, for ADP item;
- Nothing got through today. We probably went through one paragraph. But even that was did not go through well.
- It is very hard to manage so many Parties and listen to everyone’s views.
- I find it silly that most of the time was spent on airing views that the text be put up on screen. So many Parties requested for it (and I heard it was since yesterday) and yet it was not acceded to until the last hour. So tomorrow, fortunately, the text will be on screen.
- At least one Party mentioned we need to be sympathetic to Parties whose English is not their first language. Listening to verbal edits of the text is hard to follow. And I agree with. I personally felt it was difficult to follow verbal edits like that too.
- Having the text on screen and seeing comments made to it would allow Parties to react to the comments better.
- What is “Political Parity?” some Parties ask. The term is vague.
- Today I really learnt a lot about facilitation skills.
- Today was somewhat unexpected for me, to be sitting through a long session like that where Parties talked about anything but the text. It was partly hilarious. It was partly disappointing. We have limited time and it is going to be a mad scramble to go through all 43 paragraphs.
Moving forward, for Thursday and Friday, I will try and focus more on observing the CMP/SBSTA/SBI/ADP meetings. I think it is a rare opportunity to sit through and see how these types of meetings go. Also, it will be a good prep before the high level meetings in Week 2. I mean, this is why we are at COP right?
Touchbase with friends (and secret idol. haha) :
- Day 1 COP: Bumped into Jin Young Kim, co-founder of Green Environment Youth Korea. I first met her last year during Global Power Shift in Istanbul, Turkey.
- Day 2 COY, late lunch with Melissa Low. She has participated in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of Parties (COP) talks in both NGO and Party delegate capacity since December 2009. From 2014, Melissa serves as the Designated Contact Point for the National University of Singapore as it becomes a Research & Independent Non-Governmental Observer Organization with the UNFCCC. Yay NUS!
- Day 3 COY, post-lunch meetup with Kjell Kuhne. He is the founder of the Leave It In The Ground Initiative (LINGO). I first met him last year in Singapore when he was in town. He is so good at languages. He speaks German, Spanish, Bahasa Indonesia, Mandarin and who knows what.. he sounds authentic too.
- Day 1 COP, met up with Francis Joseph Dela Cruz. He is currently a Global Campaigns Manager with Climate Action Network International and had previously been with Greenpeace Southeast Asia for 14 years holding various position. I first met Francis last year during Global Power Shift in Istanbul, Turkey where I was a participant and he a trainer. When 350 Singapore organised the Singapore Power Shift, he came in and ran a training workshop for the participants.
- Day 2 COP, on this particular day, I was zoned out for most of the time.
- Day 3 COP, the Asian youths from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, India and Singapore met up. We are building up the Asian Youth Climate Network.
- I have not managed to meet Avik Roy whom I first met at Global Power Shift. For some reason, up to now, we have been texting but I have not said Hi to him in person. This time round, Avik is in Lima as part of the Adopt A Negotiator Project.
- I also secretly enjoy watching Kevin B. This fan girl discovered this creative artist of sort at Global Power Shift and was truly delighted to find out he was running the show at the daily Fossil of the Day sessions at COP20. Check out this video record of today’s FOTD. I just find it beautiful how certain characters are able to use art and humour to convey the serious messages of the climate crisis. And he seems so comfortable with his body. And makes people laugh. He’s just.. very captivating.
Being in Lima, Peru and 18 000 km away from home, meeting up with people I have met before be it in Istanbul or Singapore, reminds me of two things; First, that when someone is passionately involved in the climate change movement or youth movements, they will be here and they will stay around- case in point, Melissa, Kjell, Francis, Kevin. Secondly, no matter where I am in the world, I feel at home when I see other Asian youths.