UN climate negotiations system ‘failing poorest countries’

March 30, 2012

Mićo Tatalović

Mićo Tatalović
Deputy news editor, SciDev.Net

Least developed countries may not be getting the best deal at the UN climate change negotiations, Planet Under Pressure conference heard this week (26–29 March).

Heike Schroeder, senior lecturer at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, presented new, still unpublished, findings analysing the past 15 years of national delegations at UNFCCC (UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) negotiations.

Schroeder and Maxwell Boykoff, a researcher at the University of Colorado, United States, found delegations “have grown significantly in size and diversified in composition”, which followed  the shift and expansion of content and complexity of negotiations.

But while the delegations of developed G8 countries, and emerging G5 countries (Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa) grew significantly, those of the least developed countries (e.g. Gabon, Guyana) did not follow.

This means there was a capacity gap between the poor and rich — as well as between large and small countries. Having smaller delegations means that least developed countries do not get to partake in all sessions and are also less likely to have expert representation in their delegations.

The way forward, Schroeder said, was to cap the delegation size, introduce a code of delegations for all countries within the UNFCCC that would include representation of NGOs, indigenous people and other stakeholders.

And finally, linking activities between formal and informal negotiations to open them up and allow delegates to represent both their countries and their stakeholder groups.

“Many people that go to these conference would know [about these problems already] but there’s nothing that’s been done about it,” Schroeder told SciDev.Net. “It’s really important to address these issues of equity in the negotiations.”

Capping national delegation sizes would not fully solve the issue but it would help give more parity to the process, she added. “At least, it would be five against, let’s say 20, rather than a thousand.”

This blog post is part of our Planet Under Pressure 2012 coverage — which takes place 26–29 March 2012. To read news and analysis from the conference please visit our website.

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