On the closing day of COP23 here in Bonn, Germany, The European Climate Action Network (CAN), a collective group of NGOs, provided a highly informative and extremely positive press conference. Mohamed Adow, the International Climate Lead from Christian Aid, Rajeli Nicole, Pacific regional Director from Oxfam, and Wendel Trio, Director from CAN Europe each provided opening statements that indicated there had been significant progress in three main areas: phasing out coal along with all fossil fuels; recognition of the extensive suffering of indigenous peoples effected by extreme weather; and a tremendously positive path forward through the Talanoa Dialogue.
All three of the representatives were highly encouraged by the developments that the Talanoa Dialogue represents. The Talanoa Dialogue is the replacement for the facilitative dialogue established under the Paris Agreement. The purpose of the dialogue is to create a process for implementing the goals established under the Paris Agreement. Rajeli explained that a Talanoa dialogue is a Fijian tradition that must consider three basic principles throughout the dialogue;
1. It must bring the right people into the room for discussion—those who are experiencing the impacts the most.
2. It must establish a fair and balanced process.
3. It must reach a fair and balanced outcome,
The Fijian people use the Talanoa Dialogue in their common dialogue as well as significant negotiations. Now the COP has established this as the process by which the discussion will continue up to COP24. The dialogue can be described this way;
“Talanoa is a generic term referring to a conversation, chat, sharing of ideas and talking with someone. It is a term that is shared by Tongans, Samoans, and Fijians. Talanoa can be formal, as between chiefs and his or her people, and it can be informal, as between friends in a kava circle. Talanoa is also used for different purposes; to teach a skill, to share ideas, to preach, to resolve problems, to build and maintain relationships, and to gather information.” – The Kakala Research Framework, Seu‘ula Johansson Fua
According to an official COP Agenda item from yesterday;
The Presidencies of COP 22 and COP 23 conducted extensive consultations on the Talanoa dialogue throughout 2017, which continued during the twenty-third session of the COP. This informal note has been prepared by the Presidencies of COP 22 and COP 23 on this basis. The President of COP 23 will announce the final approach at the final plenary meeting of the COP on Friday, 17 November.
Based on my experiences at eight previous COPs, the positive press conference from CAN is relatively unusual for a COP. The tenor of this report provides cause for hope. I had the opportunity to talk with Wendel after the conference.
I asked whether there was a mechanism for subnational stakeholders to be included in the negotiations. We had a very informative conversation. He explained that the Talanoa Dialogue establishes the Paris Agreement as a living document, one that will establish the official pathway forward for the entire world to keep the planet from rising more than 20C. He continued to explain that the US sub-nationals are already playing a significant role in the negotiations by assuring other countries, particularly the European Union, that things are happening in the United States. He also puts a lot of faith in the Talanoa Dialogue as the potential method for including the US and other sub-nationals in the official negotiations.
From the NGO perspective, this was a very positive COP indeed. Leading to COP24 in Poland, the Talanoa Dialogue is a hopeful message to the world!