Conference of the Parties (COP) support

SPREP has been engaged in supporting the Pacific Island Countries in the climate change negotiations since 1991 in the context of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on a Framework Convention on Climate Change (INC), which was the forum that negotiated the text of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (FCCC). The FCCC was adopted and opened for signature at the Rio Conference in 1992, but negotiations on its rules and procedures, as well as substantive work in preparation for the entry into force of FCCC continued under the INC until late 1994. Upon its entry into force the first Conference of the Parties (COP) was held in Berlin in 1995, and SPREP has consistently sought to support the region's negotiators with technical advice in the COP process. SPREP staff members have also served on various advisory boards and committees set up under the COP, such as the Expert Group on Technology Transfer (for example the current PACC Project Manager). The current Climate Change Advisor (CCA) served as Vice-President of COP 3 and 4 (while working for the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI).

The FCCC negotiations have become over time quite complex, with new issues on the agenda, while other issues have a much longer history in the process. It is therefore important for SPREP to continue to assist in the process and to assist the Pacific Island Countries with institutional memory of the development of the various issues. At the international level PICs have made valuable contributions, but have struggled against challenges inherent at the national level. While weaknesses in both public and private sector capacity are distinguishing features of most PICs, smallness of size adds a further dimension to the challenge. This is further compounded in PICs, where internal distances are large and the population is scattered. In the public sector small states face diseconomies of scale and scope in providing public services and in carrying out the business of government, and tend to have relatively larger public sectors than other developing countries. As they face the challenges of climate change PICs are also finding they do not have sufficient capacity to participate fully in international negotiations, the outcomes of which can profoundly affect their economies and sustainable development. PICs also face problems relating to information gathering and exchange, training of personnel in skills required for climate change work, and in presenting their climate change reality to the international community.

These capacity challenges faced by Pacific Island Countries — lack of adequate funding, inappropriate scale and scope of initiatives and policy frameworks, scarcity of technical expertise, and poor infrastructure — have forced PICs to turn to regional institutions for help in specialized assistance. In order to adequately prepare PICs to effectively participate in the COP negotiations, strengthening of negotiation skills is of paramount importance, particularly if PICs are to capitalise on the many opportunities for funding adaptation and greenhouse gas reducing activities. Strengthening of negotiation skills will also allow PICs to better analyze the potential opportunities carefully, and find areas for country and regional benefits. This added skill would also contribute to PICs efforts to continue to lobby all countries to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and its successor agreements, so that effective reductions in greenhouse gas emissions can occur.

It is in this context that SPREP, working with regional and international experts, has developed a negotiations skills training framework. As mandated by the SPREP Strategic Plan, SPREP has convened a series of training workshops that address the details of the FCCC process, provides insights into the workings of the COP, simulates negotiation proceedings using recent instances as examples, and also provides for opportunities to caucus on the issues pending in the negotiations.

While these activities are extremely important for the region, they are currently funded on an ad hoc basis, and are convened as resources are made available by partners. A programmatic approach would be more sustainable and is being pursued by SPREP. Discussions have also been ongoing with USP to have negotiations skills included in the climate change curriculum.

In addition SPREP is actively engaged with the PICs in terms of supporting participation in side events, media and press conferences and in arranging practical and logistical support during the COPs and their subsidiary meetings.
SPREP has offered negotiations skills training as standalone exercises in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and also convened pre-COP training at the venues of the COP in 2009 and 2010. SPREP has partnered in the past with other agencies in the delivery of such programmes, including the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD), WWF, USP and UNEP.

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