On the second day of the conference in Bonn, the Global Stocktake (the first global inventory of policies under the Paris Agreement) adopted six months ago in Dubai during COP28 is already under analysis. The delegates began to discuss the procedural and logistical elements of the negotiation process which led to the validation of the first Global Stocktake (which we can call GST1 from now on, in line with the term used these days in the room), how to improve it, and which specific elements need to be modified in view of the next one, scheduled for 2028.

During today’s consultation in Bonn, countries commented on their experience adopting the GST1. Multiple problems have arisen related to the length and inefficiency of the negotiations in terms of timing, leadership and clarity of the mandate, and there was no shortage of references to the issue of the inclusion of non-state actors in the process. In fact, among the topics on which the parties have proposed procedural changes in view of the GST2, we find: use of scientific sources, geographical representation and inclusion, time management and efficiency of the negotiation process, international cooperation. Let’s look in detail at some of the main considerations heard in the room today:

  1. Use of scientific sources: the delegations of the Russian Federation and Saudi Arabia have expressed their desire to broaden the geography of the scientific sources used to support the negotiation and decision-making process towards the next Global Stocktake, thus making formal reference to other voices beyond that of the IPCC, which has always been considered the most authoritative source of information on climate science. An attempt, the Russian and Saudi one, to discredit the most important global scientific panel on climate change, probably due to its messages that are now impossible to reconcile with the energy and foreign policies of the two countries.
  2. Negotiating efficiency: the parties recognized the great success achieved with the adoption of the GST1 and the great cooperation between parties that was managed to be attained. In addition to applauding the cooperation and success achieved, the Parties also reflected on what went wrong: the length of the process and its inefficiency. Some possible solutions to these problems have emerged, such as:
  • Scheduling of intermediate meetings so as to give greater robustness and structure to the involvement of delegates, leaving more space and time for the meetings; 
  • The identification, at the beginning of the negotiation, of ‘guiding questions’ that direct the discussions so as to maintain strong coherence between the various sections and components of the text;
  • Maintenance of focus on the final result (output), emphasizing the objective and result to be achieved from the initial stage; almost all the delegations mentioned this point in their speech, precisely to underline how, during the adoption process, sometimes a drive towards a common objective was lost;
  • Consistency of the negotiating mandate with the results expected from the process itself (i.e. clarity in instructions and objectives);
  • The exertion of leadership by the COP Presidency, as it happened in Dubai during the adoption of the GST1.
  1. Roles, geographical representation and inclusion: the Philippines requested a more precise definition of the functions of the High Level Committee and the Joint Contact Group, established at the time to support the countries in the process; Malawi and Japan underlined the importance not only of adequate geographical representation in decisions and the inclusion of non-state actors, but also of taking into account the challenges that developing and more fragile countries are already forced to face today.
  2. Politicization of the process: some countries highlighted that communication between the technical and political components was often lacking or insufficient during the process; in this context, the High Level Committee is seen by many as a possible bridge between the two sides, the political and technical one; the Maldives, however, have identified a limit in the political component: according to the island delegation, in fact, the technical discussions seem to have always been very politicized and perhaps for this reason not too effective in pushing forward a process that is still, all in all, new from the point of view of “how to do it”.

During the final speeches other suggestions were brought to the table, such as continuing to use a variety of engagement tools, such as World Cafés (less formal sessions than usual to engage delegates), and deciding in advance the format of the final text to have more time to discuss the content of the decision, which did not happen before COP28.

The atmosphere in the room was overall constructive, with the exception of the Russians and Saudis. The work will continue tomorrow, with the possibility of speaking in the room also for the countries that were unable to do so in this first round due to time constraints.

Article by Cecilia Consalvo, Italian Climate Network Volunteer

Cover image: by Cecilia Consalvo

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