The climate negotiations have been referred to as “a circus” that participants experience in different ways depending on their role in the process. At the mid-way point of the Bonn Climate Conference’s first week, participants’ diversity of objectives and perspectives became very evident.
Negotiators working on cooperative approaches under the Paris Agreement already have over ten hours of informal consultations under their belt. Informal consultations are just starting for other issues, such as agriculture and the global goal on adaptation. The speed at which these discussions graduate from broad exchanges of views towards discussing draft text and ultimately reaching agreement also varies. Some issues, such as the budget, are advancing slowly. Meanwhile, delegates working on research and systematic observation and the Adaptation Committee are engaged in concrete text-based negotiations.
Observers also experience the process very differently than party representatives. As discussed in the contact group on “arrangements for intergovernmental meetings,” some observers, especially from developing countries, face challenges in getting to climate conferences—be it due to financial constraints or visa issues.
As “non-party stakeholders” in a government-driven process, they represent relevant interests but don’t have the same participation rights. In some cases during the first three days of the Bonn Climate Conference, observers were asked to watch via webcast to allow negotiators access to rooms as they quickly reached capacity. “We need to find a way to ensure the voices of rights-holders are heard,” underscored Women and Gender in discussions, echoing a blessing invoked in a workshop on engaging Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities. “We need to hear the sky, the water, the land, and the sea.”
Toward the end of the day, murmurs reverberated across the venue of another bomb dropped in the Heads of Delegation consultations on the Subsidiary Bodies’ agenda: the proposal by the Like-Minded Developing Countries to talk about “urgently scaling up financial support in this critical decade” won’t make reaching agreement any easier.