What to Expect at the Upcoming UN Climate Conference in Bonn

The plenary hall of the World Conference Center in Bonn, Germany.

The 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) will take place in Bonn from November 6th to 17th, 2017 under the presidency of Fiji. The goal is the advance of the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is held annually. The overall topic is climate change. At COP21 in Paris in 2015 the parties came together to negotiate the Paris Agreement – an important milestone in dealing with climate change. The Paris Agreement is a legally binding contract in which the governments agreed to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius, 1.5 degrees at best. This year’s conference aims to further implement the Paris Agreement and the preparation of the operating manual, which includes technical guidelines and procedures. The aim is to complete the guidelines at COP24 in Poland in 2018.

50,000 attendees are expected to join the discussion in Bonn. The participants consist of governments, intergovernmental organizations, UN agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), civilians and official delegates (some 30,000). The basic concept for the conference is “one conference, two zones” – comprising the “Bula Zone” and the “Bonn Zone”. The talks between governments will take place in the “Bula Zone”, whereas the “Bonn Zone”, located in Bonn’s Rheinaue Park, will be a place for events, exhibits and other activities focusing on climate change. UN’s top climate change official Patricia Espinosa asked the governments to use the events “to outline in clear and powerful terms the achievements that have been made in the past two years and deliver inspiring announcements about the new ones to come”. That corresponds with Fiji’s president Frank Bainimarama’s plans to infuse the conference with the Fijian “Bula Spirit”: “It is not about finger pointing and laying blame but is about listening to each other, learning from each other, sharing stories, skills and experiences. By focusing on the benefits of action, this process will move the global climate agenda forward.”

President Frank Bainimarama’s vision for COP23 is to advance the Paris Agreement, accelerate climate action and raise awareness for the case of small island developing states. These states where the main driver for limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, because they are already affected by the effects of climate change. He said, „as Pacific Islanders, we are fighting for our very survival. For all we hold dear. For all that God has given us and has been entrusted to us by our forebears to care for and pass on to generations to come. And for some of our number, their very existence as sovereign nations with land and coastlines hangs in the balance.

Ina Djuren is a member of the IFLRY Climate Change Program. She has a background in banking and will finish her master studies in architecture in Münster, Germany next year. The topic of her thesis will be: Climate Change – The Case of Fiji. Contact Ina at ina.djuren@gmail.com

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