Reflections on COP19

December 19, 2013

It was definitely an experience to follow the Nineteenth Session on the Conference of the Parties (COP 19) in Warsaw.  This was my first time actively following any sort of world conference.  My initial reaction is that it is so painstakingly formal and structured.  I understand the need for order because there are so many countries and entities with various opinions. However, it seems a bit excessive when you spend a good part of the first day setting up future meetings. 

On a different note, I was pleasantly surprised that Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) program was pretty heavily discussed during the conference.  While doing preliminary research on REDD+ before the conference, I was under the impression that this was not a topic at the forefront climate change discussions.  I thought the opinion was REDD+ was a good idea but difficult to execute so countries would not be so willing to tackle it.  However, as seen in the press release by the UNFCCC, President Korolec said:

“I am proud of this concrete accomplishment. We are all aware of the central role that forests play as carbon sinks, climate stabilizers and biodiversity havens. Through our negotiations we have made a significant contribution to forest preservation and sustainable use which will benefit the people who live in and around them and humanity and the planet as a whole. And I am proud that this instrument was named the Warsaw Framework for REDD+.”

The US, UK, and Norway have pledged $280 million for REDD+. If you do not wish to watch the entire 2 hour video on “Getting REDD+ off the ground: Challenges and Opportunities,” here is a short video made by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) summarizing the conclusions that various organizations and countries presented.

Financing continues to be one of the biggest challenges for REDD+ implementation but hopefully the new monetary pledges will get the ball rolling.

Overall, I am happy that I followed COP 19.  I experienced new social media platforms, such as blogging and twitter, and I felt involved with proceedings.  I looked forward to what certain countries were going to say on issues, and I even enjoyed random press briefings I had not planned to watch, like the one on the Global Electricity Initiative. Although it was stressful at times to keep up with the proceedings, I enjoyed being a part of the worldwide negotiations on climate change and I will definitely continue to monitor the news to see the what action will follow the Nineteenth Session on the Conference of the Parties. 

--Vanya Britto