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COP 23 Opening Plenary and Other First Day Things

By: 
Policy Analyst

The 23rd conference of the parties (COP 23) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) began on November 6th in Bonn, Germany. The annual COP serves as a meeting point for national delegations and negotiators, international NGO’s, scientists, business leaders, faith-based organizations, and activists comprising over 10,000 attendees from all over the world. The presiding nation over COP 23 is Fiji, but because of a lack of capacity in part due to effects of extreme weather on the island nation, the seat of the UNFCCC in Germany is the venue. It is important to note that Fiji is the first Small Island Developing State (SIDS) to preside over the annual climate conference.

This year, the COP is split into two zones: the Bula zone and the Bonn zone. The Bula zone is where the high level negotiations are taking place. The Bonn zone is where civil society can network, present, and host activities. This year the Bonn zone is not open to the public, rather individuals must be credentialed through a qualifying party or organization in order to participate.

The conference began with the opening ceremonies in the Bula Zone that included remarks by Salaheddine Mezouar, COP 22 president, Barbara Hendricks, minister for the environment, nature conservation, building and nuclear safety, Federal Republic of Germany, Ashok-Alexander Sridharan, mayor of the City of Bonn, and Patricia Espinosa, executive secretary of the UNFCCC.

The highlight of the opening ceremonies was the Fijian ceremony of welcome preceding the remarks of COP 23 President Frank Bainimarama. The Fijian president began the talks with the traditional Qaloqalovi ceremony that includes giving the tooth of a whale to the most honored guest. The Fijians then served their national drink to member states during the Yaqona Vakaturaga.

The opening ceremonies showed a renewed commitment to implementing the Paris Agreement, a focus on developing nations, as well as the importance of national interaction with civil society. The next two weeks will be filled with presentations, events, and negotiations, so be sure to tune into Texas Impact’s Facebook and page and Twitter feed for live videos and updates on COP 23.

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