Okay, how did I get here? (By here, I mean here as a UN-accredited NGO delegate for the first week of proceedings.)
SAFCEI only took a decision to send me in early November. The official Mexican website for COP 16 at that stage indicated that all registrations for COP 16 had closed in March… Only later did I learn that was misleading – registrations for organisations seeking UNFCCC accreditation had indeed closed in March, but that did not mean registrations for individual had closed. There’s a lesson here though – if you are a member of an organisation wanting to be represented at COP 17 in Durban, your organisation will probably need to register early in 2011. You need to register with the UNFCCC secretariat (unfccc.int).
So I couldn’t go as SAFCEI. The next option was to try to go as press – press registrations closed only at the beginning of November – but I couldn’t find a SA news organisation willing to accredit me or take my copy.
Then I tried government – could I join the official SA delegation? SAFCEI wrote to the Department of Environmental Affairs, which didn’t raise any objections in principle – but said that the Department of Foreign Affairs had already finalised the SA delegation…
Then I stopped trying to get info from the rather inadequate Mexican COP 16 website and looked to the more comprehensive UNFCCC website. There I discovered that individuals who are invited by already accredited observer organisations can still register with the UN. Apparently the deadline for this was the end of September… but this proved not to be a problem, though I don’t know why. For while SAFCEI is an interfaith organisation, its constituents reflect our mostly Christian country, and so has strong links with ecumenical bodies such as the World Council of Churches. And the WCC has very kindly added myself, a Buddhist, to its delegation. And my first dives into the COP craziness have been via a network called the COP16 Ecumenical Coordination Group. Via them, I invited myself to a Climate Action Network meeting today. Happily, it turns out that SAFCEI is in fact a member of the Climate Action Network, though we are hardly so sanguine as they appear to be about issues such as carbon trading. “CAN is quite conservative,” someone told me today. But they’re also pretty well organised, and very helpful.
– If you’re an organisation that doesn’t have UN accreditation yet, get it soon – these registrations will probably close in around March 2011.
– There are a number of different ways to get to the official negotiations.
– Ignore secondary information sources like this blog and go to the UNFCCC for all info about vital logistical stuff
– If you really want to go, don’t give up till you’ve exhausted every possible channel
– Hook up with networks, ideally those that reflect your interests