The Fira Gran Via conference centre is little more than a giant airport hanger with moveable walls – a sprawling space that can be carved up according to the needs of each particular conference.  These walls have been arranged into meeting rooms for the UNFCC and they hang suspended from the ceiling, dividing up negotiations from work areas and cafeterias, and open spaces from the closed meetings.

It is normal for these negotiations to have an assortment of open negotiations and closed meetings – both are published in the in the daily programme and it provides a crucial guide to civil society organisations looking to catch a moment with that crucial government delegation as they enter or exit or simply to to follow what is happening.

However, this isn’t happening here: the political tensions are running high, and countries are negotiating in unpublished, closed ‘informal’ sessions.  Through word of mouth we hear good news and bad – Bangladesh tells us that water has been accepted as a text amendment by the G77 and China – a hefty negotiating block.  We hear from contacts in the Ghanaian government that gender has been removed, but frustratingly we struggle to find out when and where these decisions are taking place.

We know that the text is moving forward, and after the drama earlier in the week and the stalled negotiations its nice to know that decisions are being made, despite the opaque process.  There is a feeling that the issues are so controversial any attempt at public negotiations would be impossible, therefore making closed sessions necessary. 

We also know that water is being pushed by several powerful negotiating blocks and we’re hopeful that after it being dropped from the text completely at the beginning of these negotiations that we can make up lost ground.  But the process is uncertain and fluid as we remain unaware of which meetings are going behind closed doors and moveable walls.

Brie O'Keefe

Progressio Campaigns Officer