A slice of the broader narrow picture

Last night was UNfairplay’s first ever side event!

Side event = boring, dry, uninspiring? Not necessarily, I know I have been surprised at how engaging issues of participation have been for those involved in UNfairplay, and to those who we try to convey our findings too. Our aim was to draw attention to the report but also to highlight other schemes created to plug participation gaps at the UNFCCC. I think the reason our arguments are gaining traction and interest from all sides is very simply because they are issues of justice, and plain unfairness. My parents always hated my “its not fair” phase at the age of 7, well it’s back.

UNfairplay presented on the findings of our report (‘Levelling the Playing Field’) and updated on some of the updates and ways forward that we’ve been blogging about at Bonn.

We also had speakers from The Legal Response Initiative, the video for which you can see below, if you’re feeling that geeky. I promise we did not pay him to drop our name that many times!

UNDP were up next (United Nations Development Programme) to talk about how they build capacity before and during negotiations by doing in country training sessions, explaining publications in the native language etc. It was really really good to hear a UN programme that was already aware of the deficiences inherent in the process, showing that awareness is certainly not the problem of the Secretariat. In our experience, since the Secretariat (of the UNFCCC) can only do what the parties tell it to do, and with money they are given by the parties, it is more likely that they just dont have the funding at the moment. The mandate is also lacking, but we know for instance that Bolivia have publicly condemned their issues of interpretation and translation, stating last week that the 6million that went into Bangkok should have gone into translation.

We then had the video presence of Nick from Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) who produce summaries of the negotiations every day, in a variety of languages, and for free. This service is very valuable to delegates and civil society alike, although in our view we would say that whilst they are perfect to maintain current knowledge, it is not sufficient information to negotiate with or form a position from. That is, unless you are an under represented delegation with very little time and therefore choice as to how much, rather than what, they read.

Last but not least was Achala from Eurocapacity. This is an amazing NGO initiative which trains up new delegates from the Least Developed Countries (LDC’s) giving them access to specialists and NGO’s that work within the negotiations. Valuable institutional knowledge is passed on by retired and experienced negotiators. All these trained negotiators take up offers on the basis that they contribute to a delegation and focus on one stream of the negotiations. Why?

Because there is no way that delegates can have enough knowledge to be useful in negotiations unless they have some focus. One stream, I can assure you, is more than plenty to deal with.

Then this morning (friday) Jamie, from Scotland, another YOUNGO (the Youth Consistutency) delivered an intervention in this morning’s SBI, the drafting of which UNfairplay had contributed to because we wanted to emphasise that interpretation and translation facilities are simply not sufficient. Although there are interpretators in main plenaries, the fact that most plenaries now get moved into contact groups and closed meetings, where interpretation is never provided, this situation is getting worse, and only like to get worse in future. See Jamie in action by clicking here.

So that’s it from UNfairplay in Bonn 2011, we hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about our efforts. If you fancy joining the group (in any capacity) and if you would like to join our info e-list to hear up-coming opportunities, drop us an email: unfairplay.fig@gmail.com. We also have some useful guidance on how to support delegations if you want to give it a go, downloadable at the bottom of the website: www.unfairplay.info

We know our work isn’t sexy, and doesn’t necessarily make for a brilliant read, but issues of fairness are so fundamental to international co-operation and respect for cultural integrity that we are making it our priority (in the quest for climate safety at least) So the truth is that the nitty gritty, in such a complex and dry process, will never be anything more than frumpy!


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