The Paris Agreement requires Parties to submit new or updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by 2020 and participate in a regular review of whether their individual actions contribute to the collective achievement of the Agreement’s aim of keeping the global rise in temperature to “well under” 2C degrees. Article 14 of the Agreement outlines this “global stocktake” procedure, but the first one does not take place until 2023. Given how quickly the Agreement entered into force just 11 months after its adoption in December, 2015, and that most Parties rely on NDCs formulated in 2014, waiting till the first global stocktake would result in an almost ten-year gap between when these mitigation and adaptation pledges were made and when they were assessed collectively for sufficiency. Fortunately, COP21 anticipated the need for a “first draft” stocktake and created the Facilitative Dialogue. At COP23, the Fijian presidency seeks to design this Dialogue that will take place in 2018.
At COP21, Parties agreed to have a Facilitative Dialogue that will “take stock of the collective efforts in relation to the progress approaching the long-term temperature goal determined in Article 4.1. of the Agreement.” Furthermore, the Parties agreed that this stocktaking would “inform the preparation of the nationally determined contributions in accordance with the Article 4, paragraph 8, of the Agreement.”
Since the COP21 decision did not specify the design of the facilitative dialogue, COP23 is expected to determine what inputs should feed the stocktake, what its modalities should be, and what outputs the dialogue should produce. The Incoming President of COP23 underscored in a May 2017 speech how important this outcome is to Fiji: “To uphold and advance the Paris Agreement, ensure progress on the implementation guidelines and undertake consultations together with the Moroccan COP22 Presidency to design the process for the Facilitative Dialogue in 2018.”
The design proposal recently presented by Fiji and Morocco outlines core principles, three central questions, information to answer them, and a phased process. The Dialogue should be “constructive, facilitative and solutions oriented,” and not single out individual Parties. It should answer these questions: (1) where are we, (2) where do we want to go, and (3) how do we get there. To do this, it should use inputs from Parties and observers, like written material in blogs and reports, videos, or other formats, and gather it all on an online platform. The latest scientific information from the IPCC and UNFCCC reports on National Communications and Biennial Reports could also be inputs. Finally, the Dialogue should proceed in two phases, with a “preparatory” period starting at the May 2018 intersessional meeting and ending at the beginning of COP 24, and the “political phase” taking place at COP24. The first phase is intended to lay the groundwork for the second, when government ministers will focus on how to achieve more progress in the next round of NDCs.
In addition to proposing this Facilitative Dialogue design, the Fiji Government offers a traditional process called Talanoa to help the parties agree on it. At a recent informal meeting of Heads of Delegation, Talanoa was described this way:“The purpose of Talanoa is to share stories, build empathy and to make wise decisions, which are for the collective good. The process of Talanoa involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling.”
The Talanoa process was employed in Fiji in 2000, when Fiji´s Parliament sought to build national unity and stability after having a hostage situation (described by the international media as a “civilian coup”) resulting from political differences between the government, ethnic leaders, and other parties. The first Talanoa was the most important one because, even though there was an atmosphere of fear and political tension, the participants–who were representatives from the diverse ethnic and religious communities, political parties and other government and military personnel– talked and listened to each other’s pain, resulting in an adjustment of people´s personal opinions and an integration of viewpoints. “It was shown that the parties could sit down and talk to one another without the meeting getting out of hand, as anticipated by some leaders.”
By using Talanoa to design the Facilitative Dialogue of 2018, the COP23 Presidency seeks to create an environment of “inclusive, participatory and transparent dialogue.” Fiji hopes that Talanoa will allow Parties to hear one another’s concerns, especially for developed countries to listen to the needs, opinions and experiences of developing countries. If so, the process of the Facilitative Dialogue could give Parties the opportunity to build empathy by identifying climate action in areas that have not been covered by the NDCs, taking into account the differentiation between developed and developing countries. Talanoa could also help countries reiterate their collective commitment to make a wise decision for the collective good: new and more ambitious NDCs by 2020 to achieve the temperature goal of the Paris Agreement.