Wednesday, 2 November 2011 10:01 AM

Pacific Prepare for UN Climate Conference

Over 18 country delegates took part in training to prepare for the 17th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework to the Convention on Climate Change at the end of this year.

The Pacific will join over 190 countries in Durban, South Africa to negotiate a path forward to mitigate climate change and provide support for those countries adapting to and impacted by climate change.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) coordinated the training that helped countries prepare for the meeting, which was generously funded by the Government of United Kingdom.

The climate change negotiations for the Pacific are of priority, and while the Pacific Small Islands Developing States contribute less than 0.03% of the World's total greenhouse gas emissions, we are amongst the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

Over an intensive three day gathering, the Pacific island country delegates were provided with the most recent update of the climate change negotiations which take place throughout the year with the main conference of the parties happening at the end of the year.

In 2009 the UNFCCC COP was hosted by Copenhagen, last year it was held in Cancun and this year it will be held in South Africa for which the Pacific have prepared a strategy that takes into account agreed actions at Durban.

"Cancun last year was quite different from Copenhagen, in that there were fewer Heads of State and Government, less media and celebrity frenzy electrifying the corridors, and expectations were consistently lowered by key actors in the process," said Mr. David Sheppard as he spoke to the participants of the preparatory training.

"We need to put this ship back in the right direction. We need to raise our sights and bring a sense of urgency to the climate negotiations."

The three day session was focussed towards helping the Pacific delegates be fully prepared for the COP meeting in Durban.

A one day training to refresh their negotiation skills was held, utilising actual climate change text and material to make the activity as 'COP lifelike' as possible. This exercise saw delegates negotiate and prepare under fictitious country names but using actual examples and circumstances from the most recent meetings.

Other facets of the training which will help the Pacific delegates at COP 17 included a communications session which provided participants with the skills to work with the media to share messages.

"SPREP is committed to supporting the Pacific Island Countries in the negotiations, and we are optimistic that the negotiations skills training will better enable the delegates to make their contributions in Durban and ensure that the Pacific voices are heard", said Espen Ronneberg, Climate Change Adviser at SPREP.

Overall feedback from the delegates that attended the training found the sessions very helpful:

"This is my first pre COP participation and I found the information and exchanges very useful for someone who is new to the UNFCCC process."

"This training brought me up to speed on most of the issues important to the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) across the main issues of mitigation, adaptation, finance and legal instruments."

"It was a good combination of capacity building and information exchange and strategy building."

The meeting was held from 25 to 27 October 2011, and delegates from Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Vanuatu attended.