UNFCCC secretariat won’t hold physical meetings in Bonn and elsewhere between Mar. 6 -end of April in response to COVID-19

March 6, 2020 – I would like to inform Parties, observer States and Observer Organizations that after careful consideration and with considerable regret, the UNFCCC secretariat will not hold any physical meetings in Bonn and elsewhere between 6 March and end of April. This decision is in response to the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, and the evolving situation in Germany[1].    This exceptional measure aims to contain the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard the health and safety of participants attending UNFCCC meetings in Bonn and elsewhere, as well as address the requisite duty of care of and by the secretariat in such circumstances. At the same time, it seeks to ensure that all mandated UNFCCC meetings and events have the necessary transparency and inclusiveness that our process requires.

This decision has also been taken in recognition of the increasing challenges posed by travel restrictions and quarantine measures that some countries have imposed on travellers from Germany. These may result in travellers not being able to return to their point of departure and/or being subject to mandatory quarantine upon arrival or in transit. Furthermore, given the secretariat’s responsibility to prudently manage resources, there is a risk that funds committed to meetings which could be postponed at short notice may not be recoverable.  This includes funds allocated for participant travel and DSA where applicable, as well as costs of logistical arrangements.  In addition, some forthcoming meetings require quorum which can be affected by last-minute cancellations or non-attendance by members or alternates. Lack of quorum hinders decision-making capacity at the meetings.  The secretariat has already experienced this situation in the past few days. The secretariat is now working with the elected officials, members and registered observers of constituted bodies and other mandated events to find suitable alternative arrangements to meetings scheduled during March and April, such as virtual meetings, or postponement. Affected participants will be contacted by the secretariat. Lastly, the secretariat, in coordination with elected officials, will continue to closely monitor the COVID-19 situation and decide on possible additional measures. The secretariat will also make every effort to ensure that work scheduled to be undertaken during this period can be carried in the coming months. 

Yours sincerely, Patricia Espinosa
[1]  The World Health Organization’s situational dashboard can be found here

With 197 Parties, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has near universal membership and is the parent treaty of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement. The main aim of the Paris Agreement is to keep a global average temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius and to drive efforts to limit the temperature increase even further to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The UNFCCC is also the parent treaty of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol. The ultimate objective of all agreements under the UNFCCC is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that will prevent dangerous human interference with the climate system, in a time frame which allows ecosystems to adapt naturally and enables sustainable development.   See also: http://unfccc.int

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