Friday, December 11, 2009

This conference is absolutely packed. And next week we are expecting even more people! There is some alarm starting to bubble up about just how everyone who wants come is going to fit in!

The conference is in many ways similar to a huge Labour Party Conference. It's hot, the food is awful, there is the main official agenda, a series of extraordinary fringe meetings and lots of stunts/media events.

Only this conference is more intense, focused as it is on one issue and the delegates are of course from all over the world.

Nearly all the conversations are in English and you find yourself getting drawn into debates everywhere with complete strangers. I had an involved conversation about CCS in the queue for the ladies (yes queues for the ladies are a universal experience!)

I have just been to a meeting organised by the Adaptation Fund. It's pretty embryonic at the moment, but it aims to fund projects to help small countries and Pacific islands adapt to climate change. It was established at Bali and resources are currently pretty limited. As the chair said, " it is a pleasure to welcome so many people (there were about 600 of us) to a meeting looking at a such a small fund"

But the negotiations here are about the future of organizations like these and may result in their massive expansion.

The discussions about how the fund will be managed highlighted many of the issues.

I sat next to Rachel van der Kooge, a journalist from Suriname. She asked a humdinger "Who would be able to apply for the funds? Will it be government, NGOs or community organisations? How about fishermen directly affected by climate change? And if it is governments who apply on their behalf, how will you ensure that the fishermen will benefit properly?"

There were others:

"When is an adaptation project an adaptation project and when is it a development project? And what happens when it is both?"

"Are all water projects adaptation projects these days?"

"How tightly will the fund monitor the projects? If it spreads best practice and gets value for money, will it be able to balance this with being sensitive to local need?"

"All very good questions" said the chair, "that we will endeavor to get the right answers in the next year as we begin commissioning".

But I'd met an Australian, Dr Robert Kay, who'd been working with atolls in the Pacific on adaptation to climate change. I asked him "what project would one of your atolls buy with a $1m one-off payments, soon available from the fund?"

Not much.

So I'm now off to a meeting about we can develop carbon markets and fund development and adaptation.