United Nations Climate Change Meeting: UNFCCC COP23
COP23, or the 23rd Annual Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), took place in Bonn, Germany, from 6-17 November 2017.
The UNFCCC, also known as the Rio Convention, was adopted in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit, and entered into force in 1994, and a total of 195 nations have now signed on. Each year the parties to the agreement convene to assess progress in implementing the convention and, more broadly, dealing with climate change. The first Conference of the Parties was held in Berlin in 1995. In 1997, the participants established the Kyoto Protocol and, at COP21 (Paris in Nov/Dec 2015), the parties negotiated the legally-binding Paris Agreement. COP22 saw the first ‘Oceans Action Day’ within the UNFCCC COP programme. In 2017, COP23 was presided over by Fiji, with the support of the government of Germany.
The impact of climate change on the Ocean, and the resulting issues, have been slow to gain visibility on the UNFCCC agenda. However, with Fiji – an island state at huge risk from sea level rise – holding the COP23 presidency, there was a significant opportunity to promote Ocean issues at the conference, including the necessity for improved observations. Fiji used its presidency to launch The Ocean Pathway, an initiative to ensure the ocean is an integral part of the UNFCCC process by 2020.
The conference attracts a variety of delegates – policy makers, business leaders, research institutes, NGOs, media – giving us a wide potential audience. As such, POGO joined forces with PML, BIOACID (A GEOMAR-led project), the UK Ocean Acidification Research Programme, and GOA-ON to co-host an exhibition stand entitled, ‘Oceans of Impact’, drawing attention to the four major stressors on the world ocean – Acidification, Warming, Deoxygenation, Sea Level rise – and giving delegates the opportunity to learn more about the causes, effects, impacts and options for action.
COP23 was attended by a total of 16,000 delegates, including over 9,200 government officials, 5,500 representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations, and 1,200 members of the media. The exhibit was in place for 2 weeks, with POGO, NANO and PML representatives interacting with delegates in multiple languages (English, French, Portuguese/Spanish, Arabic, Dutch, Italian, Indonesian, Fijian, Fijian Hindi). With such a variety of backgrounds and languages on the stand, it was possible to engage with enquiries on all levels, and we received a number of requests for further information and collaboration from a number of participants.