UNFCCC COP kicked off this week. John Lanchbery our Principal Policy Officer reports on the activities from the first couple of days….

The climate COP in Bonn started as all COPs do for environment and development groups - with a six-hour strategy session on Sunday afternoon.  We had a very good turnout for the session on agriculture, forestry and other land use – getting on for 50 people which must be a record.  My co-chair (Teresa from Action Aid) and I were delighted.

On Monday, as the Fijian COP started, Siteri from Nature Fiji arrived looking very much the Pacific Islander complete with a Jacaranda flower in her hair. (Nature Fiji is the Fijian BirdLife Partner.) This is Siteria’s first COP and we were delighted to be able to help facilitate her to attend – her presence not only increases our impact as BirdLife at this meeting but also helps build the capacity of our smaller BirdLife partners - a vital tool in helping us to achieve our International ambitions. I briefed Siteri on how COPs work, insofar as one can outline such a complex process.

We then went to our first side event on nature-based solutions to climate change run by the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), the IUCN and other wildlife folk.  I gave a talk on how we should conserve and enhance natural sinks and reservoirs of greenhouse gases to help reach the Paris Agreement goal (such as preserving areas of tropical rainforest, like Gola Rainforest) rather than using suspect and often downright dodgy geo-engineering “solutions” such as Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage.  It predictably went down well with the IUCN and especially the CBD, who have been concerned about the dangers of geo-engineering for many years.

Spent a quiet but very long evening writing a Climate Action Network (CAN) position on nature-based solutions which I am doing with Christoph Thies from Greenpeace Germany who follows both the climate talks and the CBD.  We will present out thoughts to the rest of CAN on Wednesday afternoon. Producing joint positions to present to Governments, which provide a clear and consistent message from all of the key NGOs, really helps us achieve the most impact.

Up in pitch darkness on Tuesday for the daily CAN coordination meeting and then off to a huge tented camp down by the Rhine where most side events are being held.  (A side event is anything that is not part of the formal UN process). Siteri joined me there, complete with the Jacaranda flower, and we went to our RSPB side event in the UK Government Pavilion.

Our event was on building climate resilience in the Caribbean UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) following Hurricane Irma.  It went down very well. I can say that because Lyndon John, the RSPB’s UKOTs officer in St Lucia, wrote all of it.  We had some good questions, especially from a Mexican lady on the extent to which small island states can cope with emergencies. Siteri chipped in with experiences in Fiji of their recent cyclone – having someone at the event who had been personally been affected by such extreme weather events, really helped bring the importance of this issue to life.

Had a late lunch and moved on to the WWF Pavilion, for our Trillion Trees event with WWF and WCS. I was on a panel with a very nice bloke from Tanzania, two Columbians and a German, who is sponsoring Trillion Trees.  I did natural solutions to climate change again but with a slightly different spin.  Again, all went well with a full house and lots of questions.

Finished the day in the Fijian Pavilion with Siteri drinking cassava wine from coconut shells - as is traditional in Germany.   

Do follow our blogs as negotiations progress and we will keep you updated on how we get on….