Team Pacific at the UN Climate Change Negotiations in Marrakech, Morocco: SPREP
- Published on 15 November 2016
Mr Espen Ronneberg, the Climate Change Adviser of SPREP first started in the UN Negotiation Process in 1992. He saw the entry into force of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Protocol Proposal move through eventually becoming the Kyoto Protocol which was entered into force after the 7th Conference of the Parties and now, the Paris Agreement. He was a negotiator for the Marshall Islands for nine years, then worked for six years with the UN SIDS Unit providing advice to the AOSIS meetings, and then again with SPREP.
Q. What is your biggest challenge in the negotiations?
"It is to constantly keep up to date with developments and new reports and studies, also to be patient enough to stick it out."
Q. Who were your role models when you first started in this process?
"When I first started we had Ambassador van Lierop of Vanuatu and then Ambassador Slade from Samoa and there were a few other delegates as well who represented AOSIS members that were very inspiring. I should also mention the mentoring role played by Robin Mauala of Samoa in guiding Pacific delegates in the diplomatic world at the UN."
Q. What advice do you have for other negotiators new to this process?
"Keep calm, cool, collected and study up on the various topics but try and concentrate on one area because you can't do everything. Also, try to learn something new every day."
The Climate Change Adaptation Adviser for SPREP, Ms Diane McFadzien first attended her first COP in Bonn in 1999 (COP5). She has attended the COP in different roles, as a member of the Cook Islands Government, with WWF and then now, in her capacity as a SPREP staff member. She also attended COP6 as a member of the UNFCCC Secretariat in 2000. Throughout all of these, she has been accredited to the Cook Islands delegation, something she is very grateful for.
Q. What are your most memorable moments of the COP?
"Definitely Paris, the fact that the world managed to turn Copenhagen (COP15) around, because I have seen some pretty low lowlights, I saw COP6 collapse in Den Hague and then come back together at COP6 bis, Copenhagen collapsed and then Paris came back together, so I think you really have to see the lowlights to appreciate how high the highlights really are."
Q. What are your biggest challenges at the COP?
"Wearing shoes, finding time to eat and go to the bathroom, just finding time in a busy scheduled day. One lesson I learnt later in the process was not to take anything personally and to remember that negotiators are paid to negotiate certain positions. It doesn't represent who they are as people and to not allow it make me who I am, but to maintain my own identity and not take it back home under my skin. To just leave the work at work."
Q. Who were your role models when you first started?
"Espen Ronneberg, Ian Fry and Rawleston Moore, they all took me under their wing and taught me a lot at my first meeting in 1999."
Q. What advice would you have for others that are new to the negotiations?
"You are always a lot stronger if you have a mandate it's very difficult if you come to a session and you don't actually know what it is that you are asking for, so as much as you can get that mandate from home as it immensely strengthens your position. Secondly, the people across the table are not necessarily your friends or enemies they are paid public servants who also have mandates that came from capital so don't get frustrated or take it personally if they can't change their mandate to suit yours. Remember that their mandates also came from people that are much higher than them in the process."