The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the governing body of the Convention, and advances implementation of the Convention through the decisions it takes at its periodic meetings. The Conference of the Parties has been held in 16 countries with Climate Change being an increasingly important issue across the world. The last two conferences in Copenhagen and Cancun respectively have caused quite a stir among the nations resulting in various heated discussions and some successful policy implementations.
COP 17 was held at Durban, South Africa this year in the month of November. This place apart from being rich in its bio-diversity is now also looked upon as a country with opportunities for economic development. With on-going climate negotiations all over the world this event is much awaited among environment enthusiasts and policy makers it was an event of huge magnitude and great significance.
The negotiating process on climate change revolved around the sessions of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP), which meets every year to review the implementation of the Convention. The COP adopts decisions and resolutions, published in reports of the COP. Successive decisions taken by the COP make up a detailed set of rules for practical and effective implementation of the Convention. There were always moments which demanded absolute attention tracking the policies and changes every country has made or is about to make.
Thousands of participants, including government representatives and observer organizations, have attended previous climate change conferences. The sessions in Durban attracted over 20,000 participants, including some thousands of government officials, and over 10,000 representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and around 4000 accredited members of the media. The UN Climate Change Conference in Cancun last year had over 11,800 participants.
Participation in COP 17 and CMP 7 was restricted to duly nominated representatives of Parties, observer States, accredited observer organizations and accredited press/media. Those Parties to the Convention that are not Parties to the Protocol may participate as observers in the meeting of the Parties.
All Conferences to date have had a high-level segment attended by anywhere from 70 to 100 ministers and senior officials, usually at the end of the session. The high-level segment normally includes an opening or welcoming event with some head of state participation and is partly attended by the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Arriving during the second week of COP had its own advantages and disadvantages. While I missed the numerous discussions and meetings I made it just in time to attend the launch of ‘Momentum for Change’ providing me the opportunity to carefully listen and gain perspective from the plenary chaired by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, President of South Africa Jacob Zuma and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres marking the initiative of the United Nations system. This conference as a whole was a great platform to meet leaders and negotiators from all over the world sometimes playing a huge role in the decisions you make. I also had the opportunity to meet and interact with Mrs.Jayanthi Natrajan, Environment minister of India.
While many sit back and start to think of this conference as ‘just another conference’ which is over hyped , one might want to come take a look at the magnitude of this event and the support of the youth that spreads around like wildfire keeping the momentum at a progressive pace. Yes, there are many setbacks- but out of this imperfection there lies a level of agreement with thousands of youth wanting their voices heard. Being part of an event of such a huge scale only made me want to go back to my own country and provide them with the vision and knowledge I gathered here and share my experience.