This has been a long week here at the climate talks. I have tried to keep you updated with several blogs describing the arrival of our team of trackers, introducing the parallel negotiating tracks, highlighting a good opportunity for the EU to make its own life easier while contributing to enhancing the trust among the different parties and sharing my personal perspective on the equity discussions.
Concluding this week on a lighter note, I thought I would take you with me through one of the typical day for a NGO delegate in these negotiations…
8:00 - Arrival at the Maritim hotel, while the corridors are still rather empty. This quiet atmosphere is ideal to check emails rapidly and have a quick read through the daily program and the ECO newsletter (remember? you can find those here).
8:30 – For the various civil society groups, the day begins with parallel morning meetings. That daily meeting is an opportunity both to exchange updates from the past 24 hours, as well as to identify key entry points to advocate for the network’s positions and other relevant events during the coming days. Since those constituencies also include several NGO having each their main focus and strategies, the daily meeting also allows sharing plans across organizations and identifying potential areas for joint actions.
10:00 - The Maritim hotel, which serves as the main venue for the negotiations, is now in full operating mode. Negotiations are now ongoing for the first formal section of the program and will last until the lunch break in several parallel tracks. One juggles during few hours of negotiating sessions between following the official discussions, and discretely working on drafting positions & interventions or coordinating through skype with colleagues following other segments of the discussions. More focused negotiating sessions also allow for good advocacy opportunities. During those, the key is to keep a good record of the position of the various parties. When NGOs are “lucky”, they might even be able to make a short intervention during the meeting itself to present their views.
13:00 - The two hours long lunch break is not exactly a time dedicated to relaxation and recovering from the talks. Between the side events and panels proposed at that time, and the opportunities to meet governmental and civil society representatives, lunch is often reduced to its minimum purpose with networking taking the priority. Considering that all delegates are also navigating from one room to another during this short time window, this is the perfect timing to organize actions to raise attention on a particular point.
15:00 – The afternoon sessions begin, almost as a relief, offering the opportunity to sit in a relatively quiet negotiating session and digest. This afternoon session will last for another three hours (or more when countries get into bitter fights) of attempts to reach compromises between national positions.
18:00 - The head full of information, the task to process those and try to channels some of it in a readable story begins. In the middle of these busy corridors, it is often a real challenge to take distance with all the surrounding actions and focus for a while. My personal trick: put on earphones even without music, this sometimes is sufficient to signal that one is working and concentrated and not available for a chat.
20:00 - The last round of side event begins. At this time of the day, the side event are usually more empty but one can expect that only those truly interested by a particular issue are still sticking around until 9:30pm, hence offering a good chance for enriching discussions.
22:30 – The venue is shutting down for the night, recovering from the intensity of the past 14 hours and preparing for another such day. For teams such as ours, the evening concludes with a late delegation meeting, reviewing the activities of each during the past day.
Finally, the empty breakfast hall offers the tranquility necessary to focus, follow-up of all those emails that one would have put aside during the day, and finish the blogs and reports partially drafted earlier that evening.
Clearly, attending the climate talks is not exactly a restful experience. But the commitment and energy of those around us are incomparable sources of inspiration and motivation. So thank you all.
About the authorSébastien Duyck
Passionate environmental advocate, PhD student (Human Rights and Environmental Governance). Following particularly UNFCCC, UNEP and Rio+20 processes