[BLOG] Finalizing the implementation of the Paris Agreement: a long and tenuous road

article SofiaParties and observers meet for SB48 in Bonn, Germany


From April 30th until May 11th in Bonn, Germany was held the 48th sessions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) and Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA).

What is it?

Every year, Parties to the UNFCCC meet to discuss international climate policy, what is known as COPs (Conference of Parties). Between each COP, Parties meet to advance technical matters and prepare negotiation texts during what are commonly called intersessionals. The last session was the 48th session (SB48) and aimed at advancing the elaboration of the Paris Agreement Work Programme (PAWP), that is the guidelines which will enable the implementation of the Paris Agreement at the national level.

As a member of the think-and-do-tank CliMates, which is recognized as an observer organization to the UNFCCC, I had the chance to attend this conference during the second week of negotiations. It was the second time I attended international climate negotiations and as last time, I was excited to take part in this important gathering of world negotiators and observer organizations representatives.

What happened?

My expectations were high for this negotiations. Indeed, those were crucial for the elaboration of the PAWP which is supposed to be finalized and adopted at COP24, which will be held in Katowice, Poland in December 2018. Considering the amount of items that remain to be discussed, this conference was an important step towards the finalization of the implementation guidelines. Overall, the work on the PAWP moved forward by way of 21 different workstreams, and all of them made some, albeit small, progress. Unfortunately, negotiations went slower than expected and led to the decision of organizing an exceptional second intersessional which will take place in Bangkok in September 2018, a few month before COP24.

However, some of the work done in Bonn deserves to be highlighted. During week 1 for instance, Parties met for the Suva Expert Dialogue on Loss & Damage (1), a matter of great concern for countries already impacted by climate change. Parties also discussed the operational modalities of the newly adopted Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform (2), as well as the Gender Action Plan (3) and the Global Stocktake (4). Finally, the SB48 was the occasion to reflect on the first session of the Talanoa Dialogue  (5) which took place a few days before the beginning of the intersessions.


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Joséphine Raynauld and myself speaking on behalf of YOUNGO, during the meeting of observer organization with Mrs. Executive Secretary Patricia Espinoza


Which place for civil society?

Civil society, including youth, was very active and organized several side-events and actions on, among other things, health and climate change, conflict of interest in international climate negotiations and short-term pollutants. Overall, being an observer at UNFCCC conferences is both frustrating (seeing many closed session, including those on transparency) and stimulating as we can perceive the will and energy of observers, including young people to trigger climate action and ambition. Indeed, UNFCCC processes are one of the few in which young people are given a voice and opportunity to take part in the debate, with other observer constituencies, such as business, researchers and women and gender.

1.  The Suva Expert Dialogue is an important step towards furthering collective understanding of approaches to address Loss & Damage, associated finance needs, and sources of support.
2. This platform aims at involving non-party stakeholders in UNFCCC process, including by sharing knowledge in the fight against climate change and its impacts.
3.The Gender Action Plan was adopted at COP23 with the goal to increase the participation of women in all UNFCCC processes.
4. The first Global Stocktake will take place in 2023 and will aim at taking stock of the progress made towards the achievement of the goal set under the Paris Agreement. The stocktake will take place every five years from 2023 and will help Parties know how much more remains to be done in order to limit global average temperature to 2°C.
5. The Talanoa Dialogue is the first Global Stocktake, albeit less ambitious. Its format aims at being participatory and inclusive and invites all parties to share their stories on climate change. The dialogue aims at addressing three questions: 1) Where are we? 2) Where do we want to go? 3) How do we get there? 




For more information on the takeaways of SB48 check this article by Climate Tracker.



If you want to get involved in international climate negotiations, don’t hesitate to contact me at sofia.kabbej@climates.fr.