Following its recent rebranding from “UNFCCC,” what’s now UN Climate Change has issued its first Annual Report. This is a laudable initial foray into communicating outside the often arcane world of climate negotiators, and the report is comprehensive and transparent, not least on the $6 million shortfall in country dues, which the report says “is a serious problem for the secretariat.”
It’s quite light on climate finance, and there’s little sense of connection to the world of private finance, but that’s an accurate reflection of present circumstances.
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Towards the end, the report has some useful graphics and timelines on the history of the convention. One of these, on page 44, however, demonstrates what’s perhaps UN Climate Change’s core problem in terms of accelerating both climate action and climate finance.
The graphic shows how, rather like the coral reefs it seeks to save, UN Climate Change has accreted multiple and dense layers of activity over more than 25 years, most of them the result of some now obscure negotiation captured in the place names generally assigned – the “Nairobi Work Programme”, the “Cancun Adaptation Framework,” the “Durban Platform on Enhanced Action”.
A quarter of a century is a long time, so it’s hardly surprising that all these layers of activity have built up. If there is any consistency in the connections between them, however, they are not apparent to the non-aficionado. In any other organisation, you’d be looking towards a pretty radical clear-out and rationalisation, not least because the institutional memory required to run all these “legacy systems” must inevitably fade with the passing years. The problem is that so much time – and political and human will – has gone into the negotiation of all the ‘stuff’ that’s up there in UN Climate Change’s attic that the consensus seems to be that the easiest way to deal with it is just to leave the door shut.
Perhaps the greater transparency this Annual Report creates can be a first step to thinking about at least having a peek through the keyhole?