NGO presence at Copenhagen conference

Written by  //  December 10, 2009  //  United Nations  //  No comments

Sarah Diefendorf: COPENHAGEN: Locking Out the Passion As NGOs are Barred
Sarah Diefendorf is the Executive Director of the Environmental Finance Center at Dominican University of California. She is attending the COP15 talks under the auspices of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. Here she shares her on-the-ground observations from Day 4:

Thousands of us have gathered here, NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), Parties to the Convention, negotiators, media, and a world of observers. As a whole, we suffer together the cold mornings slogging through the foggy wetness of Copenhagen (especially the Africans), we herd through the ever changing security lines, we pore through the daily agenda that is stretching up to 50 pages as the delegate numbers grow, and we wander, frequently bewildered, through the football fields of halls and meeting rooms, wondering where we are supposed to be and how we can best effect change.  We have done all this with an unexpected humor and camaraderie that has turned us into a family. On the buses, in the lines, over dinner, we mix and chat, negotiators and NGOs alike.  With no protocol, we simply walk up to our undersecretaries, deputy ministers, and executive directors to chat about our concerns and the response is welcoming.  We are one family, with one cause.  But all this is about to change.
The Shame of Copenhagen

Maybe tomorrow, maybe not until Monday, the Conference Secretariat has announced that NGO access will be limited. Because there are now over 35,000 registrants and observers and NGOs are the “least important” delegates, our teams will be limited to perhaps as much as 30% of our total and that percentage will dwindle to almost nothing as the week wears on.  Our ‘family’ will morph into  ‘us and them,’ and the NGOs will soon be shut out of the debate.  By the time the world’s leaders arrive, NGO presence will likely be reduced to 100-200 participants.  This will be the shame of Copenhagen. The NGOs are the life of this conference, from the thousands of youth who are sleeping in gyms and dorm rooms, to the indigenous leaders who represent the most abused populations of this planet; we are the passion of Copenhagen. That passion will soon be moved to the purgatory of overflow, somewhere else in the city, maybe. Or perhaps we will just be relegated to watching the CNN reports on our hotel TVs just like everyone else. Next week the jaded and exhausted negotiators will turn over the floor to the world’s ministers, secretaries and leaders and politics will take the helm and we will be relegated to protesting beyond the gates.
9 December
The leaked ‘Danish draft’ text of a Copenhagen agreement: an NGO-created storm that will not benefit poor countries?
(FT) Some NGOs have claimed that the text is aimed at destroying the prospects of developing countries. In fact, the text reflects the state of the talks. Developed countries want a new legal framework for any agreement for Copenhagen – one that takes some of the aspects of the Kyoto protocol, but incorporates them into a different legal framework that would allow the US, which rejected the Kyoto protocol, to take part.
7 December
Copenhagen Summit Running Out Of Room: Limits On NGOs And Media
One hundred ninety two nations, nearly a thousand NGOs, five thousand media representatives, one hundred and ten political leaders – all in all, 34, 000 people were planning to fill the halls of the Bella Center in Copenhagen, Denmark for the 11-day UN Climate Change Conference (COP 15) that kicked off today. It seems the COP 15 organizers were never clear about how many participants will be coming to Copenhagen and whether the summit will be able to accommodate all of them. The list of delegates was not available on the COP 15 website until the conference opened today.
The expected number of delegates was at 15,000 originally due to the space constraints of the Bella Center where the conference will be held. However, the interest toward the conference has been record high and 34,000 people asked to attend. Now, Danish organizers are asking to limit the number of media and NGO representatives attending the meetings. Today, news flashes appeared on COP 15 website, saying the number of media requesting accreditation reached 5,000. As the result, the memo said any new requests for accreditation will be suspended until further notice. It is still not clear how the COP 15 organizers will reduce the number of NGO representatives
14 September
Participation from the Sidelines: NGOs in Copenhagen
… NGO constituencies (Environmental NGOs [ENGOs], Business and Industry NGOs [BINGOs], Local Governmental and Municipal Authorities [LGMAs], and Indigenous Peoples Organizations [IPOs]) … will be concerned primarily with:
* lobbying government delegates;
* circulating information and position papers;
* working with the media;
* hosting side events;
* making interventions during debates; and
* monitoring developments in the negotiations
But the way in which each constituency does so differs based on the particular interests of each NGO making up the constituency.
No matter what the NGO is founded on, each and every NGO seeks a greater involvement in the negotiation process. Sometimes this is best achieved by presenting themselves as a single constituency for the sake of being heard. But this is often a difficult thing to accomplish due to the sheer number and diversity of NGOs concerned with climate change negotiations (approximately 985 NGOs representing a broad spectrum of interests from those described above to faith groups, labor unions, women’s organizations, and youth groups). Not to mention the other groups of parties and observers recognized by the convention. Nevertheless, while the five NGO constituencies recognized by the climate change regime are not actively involved in the negotiations they do have the opportunity for their voice to be heard … and ultimately have an impact on the game.

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