|In a heartfelt letter by the lead facilitator on reducing emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD+) in Copenhagen, Tony La Vina reflects on his experience during the COP 15 negotiations (REDD+ is one of two new mechanisms called for in the Copenhagen Accord). In the letter, La Vina suggests using the approach that lead to success in the REDD+ negotiations as possible way forward for the UNFCCC process as a whole.
On the one hand, according to La Vina, “the failure of Copenhagen was a collective failure and that all of us [negotiators] who were there, and the governments we represented, should hold ourselves accountable.” On the other hand, however, the frantic atmosphere of COP 15, especially the expulsion of observers and lack of transparency in the final days, suggests fundamental changes to the UN structure are needed for any ambitious global agreement on climate change to be reached.
To begin with, La Vina advises that the legal form of the proposed outcome be articulated as quickly as possible. Will the Copenhagen Accord become a legally binding treaty, or will it rest as a COP decision with diminished international expectations?
Time will simply be better spent by meeting privately with lead negotiators and building trust beforehand, and by utilizing “Friends of the Facilitator” to speed up discussion points through holding parallel, transparent conversations. Likewise, negotiators should strive to maintain best practices in stakeholder engagement and transparency.
La Vina argues that by applying a nonlinear, “mosaic approach” to the overall negotiations, as was done in the REDD discussions, a series of decisions could better build on each other and form a navigable direction.
Finally, La Vina takes on the very notion of the need to agree on everything or agree on nothing. This WTO-style approach has left little accomplished since the Bali Action Plan. A less comprehensive approach could capitalize on the momentum of progress in areas such as REDD-plus, tech transfer or adaptation. Ultimately, and at the very least, the momentum gained by any of these recommendations will lead to less stalemating and a more efficient UN process. Read Full Letter