7 November 2019
Monthly Forecast November 2019: New Places and New Faces
Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
story highlights

While the UNFCCC moved the UN Climate Change Conference from Santiago to Madrid, the CBD was undergoing its own transition, with Elizabeth Mrema assuming the role of Officer in Charge, following the resignation of Executive Secretary Cristiana Pașca Palmer.

The 31st Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol, convening early this month in Rome, Italy, is expected to provide insight into how the most “successful” MEA is faring, with issues related to implementation of the Kigali Amendment “expected to permeate discussions”.

The third meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury is expected to be the final “annual” COP – during which arrangements for Secretariat functioning and other procedural decisions are taken.

The month started with a major disruption of workflow affecting many government officials and stakeholders involved in international climate negotiations. On 30 October, Chile announced its decision not to host the 2019 UN Climate Change Conference in Santiago from 2-13 December 2019, due to the “difficult” situation in the country.

The belated Halloween treat came on 1 November, when the UNFCCC announced that the 25th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 25) will be held under the Chilean Presidency in Madrid, Spain, on the original dates. The announcement left many scrambling for airfare and hotel refunds and frantically changing intercontinental travel and visa arrangements. The change in the COP location also affects plans for numerous side events and associated meetings that had been scheduled to take place in Santiago, adding uncertainty to the agenda for the already busy month of November.

As November 2019 opens, the 31st Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol (MOP 31) is convening in Rome, Italy, from 4-8 November, to discuss regulation of substances that deplete the ozone layer. This MOP is the first to convene after the entry into force of the Kigali Amendment on 1 January 2019, which seeks to phase down hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) – substitutes for many ozone depleting substances that have been found to have a high global warming potential (GWP). The meeting is expected to provide insight into how the most “successful” Multilateral Environmental Agreement (MEA) is faring. According to the Earth Negotiation Bulletin, issues related to implementation of the Kigali Amendment are “expected to permeate discussions” in Rome.

While the UNFCCC was trying to figure out where to hold the UN Climate Change Conference, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was undergoing its own transition. Following the resignation of Executive Secretary Cristiana Pașca Palmer, Elizabeth Mrema assumed the role of Officer in Charge on 1 November. She will transition to the role of acting Executive Secretary on 1 December 2019.

During this transitional month, the CBD will convene its intersessional bodies on scientific advice (the 23rd meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the CBD) and traditional knowledge (the 11th meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions of the CBD) to continue to lay the foundation for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. The CBD Thematic Consultation on Ecosystem Restoration for the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework will also meet, with the goal of producing a report to inform the Second Meeting of the CBD Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Framework. The Open-ended Working Group is developing a preliminary text of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, to be further elaborated at its third meeting in July 2020.

Also this month, the CBD Secretariat will collaborate with The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and other focal points of the Communities of Ocean Action to hold the ‘2020 Ocean Pathways Meeting,’ the outcomes of which will feed into the 2020 UN Ocean Conference and the CBD post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

November also marks key moments in global policy making for the social development component of sustainable development. Events related to the 25th anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), which took place in Cairo, Egypt, in 1994, and the Fourth World Conference on Women, which took place in Beijing, China, in 1995, will take place in November. Kenya will host a 25th anniversary event, and regional preparations in the Arab and Asia-Pacific regions will take place to prepare for the 2020 Beijing+25 follow up. We will be listening for how these events have helped to frame the sustainable development policy trajectory over the last 25 years, and how these events and issues are positioned to help drive the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

While November opens with the meeting of the Parties for the MEA that many look to as a model (the Montreal Protocol), it will close with the meeting of the Parties for the “new kid on the block.” The third meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP3) to the Minamata Convention on Mercury will convene in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss, inter alia, waste thresholds, releases, interim storage, contaminated sites, open burning of waste, review of Annexes A and B, and harmonized customs codes. This COP is expected to be the final “annual” COP – during which arrangements for Secretariat functioning and other procedural decisions are taken. One element of these arrangements was just announced, with the news that Monika Stankiewicz will assume the position as the Executive Secretary of the Minamata Convention on 16 January 2020. As delegates at COP3 turn their attention to implementation and a two-year cycle for COPs, they will discuss their own 2020 deadline: the year by which the manufacture and trade of a plethora of mercury-added products will need to be phased out. As the Earth Negotiations Bulletin analysis at COP2 indicates, “COP3 will need to ramp up all efforts to ensure that this goal is accomplished.”

Meanwhile, preparations for the annual session of the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) have become a year-round affair. In November, Norway will host a workshop in Oslo for countries preparing voluntary national reviews (VNRs) of SDG implementation in their countries. Approximately 50 countries are expected to present VNRs in July 2020.

Finally, governments in New York will try to come to important decisions this month about the thematic review component of the HLPF. Currently under consideration is a proposal to focus the 2020 Forum on transformative pathways for a decade of action. This theme would emphasize the urgency of delivering on the SDGs in the coming years, while inviting discussion of key recommendations from the Global Sustainable Development Report that was released in September 2019 titled, ‘The Future is Now.’

 Lauren Anderson, Elena Kosolapova, Faye Leone, Lynn Wagner

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