Two Zones = Two Conferences

The following letter was drafted and shared with the UNFCCC Secretariat, on behalf of the Constituencies listed below:

As we kick off 2018 and look towards COP24, we, representing key Constituencies of the UNFCCC, are writing today to share feedback on COP23’s concept of ‘One Conference, Two Zones’. While we very much appreciate the challenges of hosting this session in Bonn and accommodating a large number of participants, as well as creating space for the public to attend, we felt it important to share feedback on participant experiences. We voice concern over suggestions that this COP serve as a model for future COPs.

First, we express concern for the significant physical challenges and time constraints the extremely long distance between the negotiating rooms (Bula zone) and the Bonn zone caused on an individual level for many participants. While recognizing that a number of modes of sustainable transportation were put in place, it made moving between spaces a significant undertaking, and left many people no choice but to stick to one space for the entire session. The long distance and the transportation options raised also concerns of safety due to poor lighting on the way from one zone to the other.

Additionally, from an outreach and engagement perspective, it was very detrimental. Many government representatives, including Ministers, expressed dismay at not being able to step foot in the Bonn zone, as well as over the significant challenge to leave negotiating sessions for their own sponsored side events due to the long distances between one zone and the other.

Civil society faced huge challenges in outreach to Parties, as well as in using the space for effective networking. As an example, the Women and Gender Constituency reported a 50% drop in participation in their morning caucus session, which is always open to Parties and UN agencies, and is a space where many women delegates, particularly from developing countries attend. CAN was not able to host CAN Daily meetings due to the fact that not all members were granted a Bula zone badge and the Bonn zone was simply too far away to encourage those with a badge to join meetings in the Bonn zone. Furthermore, some members from Climate Justice Now! who have very few delegates, could not even maintain exhibit spaces effectively, having to choose between following the negotiations or being in the exhibit area.

Hosting actions, delivering statements, tracking negotiations and speaking in press conferences were all hampered due to the dual badging. While we understand some participants do not engage directly in the negotiations, it is often hard, particularly for smaller and younger constituencies to determine this ahead of time. COPs are spaces where capacity building and engagement in the process can be refined — the dual zones constrained access of those actively participating in the work of Constituencies in the Bonn zone to effectively engage in the negotiations.

We feel that COPs in Paris and Marrakech, that accounted for a now expected space for participants to host events, exhibits and attend negotiations, as well as an outside space that was fully open to the public, is a much more effective example that should serve as a model for future COPs.

We look forward to hearing your feedback on this matter.

On behalf of,
Women and Gender Constituency (WGC)
Workers and Trade Unions (TUNGOs)
Youth (YOUNGO)
Environmental NGOs (ENGOs)
Research and Independent Non-Governmental NGOs
Business and Industry NGOs (BINGOs)