On Saturday December 9th, a special plenary session dedicated to listening to international and non-governmental organizations took place at COP28.

A representative of the COP28 Presidency opened the proceedings, which began about an hour later than expected, underlining the sense of urgency necessary to face the challenges of this conference, an urgency also reiterated throughout the day to the facilitators of the various negotiating sessions and in the final plenary at 8.30 pm. The Presidency then cited collaboration and cooperation as necessary aspects in everyone’s work, urging delegates to work intensely given the little time left to give a clear message to the world. Subsequently, he underlined the practical and organizational aspects of the session, urging the delegates to maintain “effective time management” during the interventions and to strictly respect the two-minute time made available, so as to allow everyone to express themselves.

After him, international organizations immediately spoke up.

Almost 30 took part in the meeting, including research centers, centers for nature conservation and biodiversity, training and climate and responsible education centers, centers and networks for environmental cooperation, commissions for sustainable development and climate finance, organizations focused on specific themes such as agroforestry, soil diversity, ecosystem conservation of the European Alps and youth participation.

In total, just under half of the organizations represented civil society.

In fact, 11 delegates gave voice to the work, battles and discontent of non-governmental organizations and civil society. The difference was immediately perceived, in the harsher tones and more practical contents, compared to the speeches of the previous, more structured, more institutional session of speeches.

In Saturday’s plenary, the heterogeneity of the interventions provided many different visions on climate justice, energy transition, transparency and governance, providing an additional and necessary stage to many realities otherwise confined to the rare and short statements granted during the opening and closing COP plenaries. Indigenous populations, disabled people, the world of research, business, young people, farmers and feminist organizations were able to express themselves and make their voice heard in the minutes allowed (only 2, even if not everyone respected the timer) in front of the COP28 presidency.

Unfortunately, this special plenary did not grab the attention of the delegates.

Having followed the session in person, here in Dubai, we were able to see that the room was not full, in fact it was only a quarter occupied. This is not surprising, taking into account that in the same time slot technical and political negotiations were taking place on the much discussed Article 6 of the Paris Agreement (3 sessions during the day, given the urgency to close imposed by the Presidency), on climate migration, green economy and on the theme of the inclusion of women and the gender issue – as well as an endless negotiation on the Just Transition topic which began at 2.00 pm and, at the time of the writing of this article, was still not finished after more than eight consecutive hours.

Article by Cecilia Consalvo, delegate of the Italian Climate Network at COP28

Cover image: photo by Cecilia Consalvo.

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