by Ms Sol Iglesias
Director, Intellectual Exchange Department
Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF)
Most commentators have welcomed the successful albeit modest outcome of the 16th Conference of Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) concluded on 10th December 2010, in Cancun, Mexico. There remains scope for Asia and Europe—through the ASEM framework —to play a constructive role as the 2012 expiry of the Kyoto Protocol commitments draws near.
The Asia-Europe Foundation, with its partners in the Asia-Europe Environment Forum (ENVforum) organised official side events and informal dinners among official and track-two negotiators at COP 13 in Bali (2008), COP 14 in Poznan (2009) and COP 15 in Copenhagen. As observed by one of Indonesia’s top negotiators, these meetings made their impact through the fostering of inter-personal ties that would not have been nurtured otherwise. Key Asian and European countries enjoyed some intellectual breathing space at these meetings, which helped to build bridges across serious divides.
In Copenhagen, an ENVforum panel on the eve of Summit-level deliberations emphasized the importance of developing private sector-led finance mechanisms as well as public ones to support the inclusion of reforestation and counter-degradation in climate change mitigation efforts. This is known in the UN climate negotiations as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD), which was adopted in Cancun.
The ENVforum is an ASEF initiative with the Hanns Seidel Foundation (Germany), Institute for Global Environmental Strategies (Japan), the Swedish Environmental Secretariat for Asia, the UN Environment Programme and the European Environment Agency. It has maintained a robust Asia-Europe dialogue among officials, experts and civil society groups since 2003, producing books and briefings that outline recommendations for enhanced cooperation between the two regions–investment in clean development under the Kyoto Protocol.
In 2011, ASEF will work with these partners for a solution-oriented focus, to contribute to the dialogue process towards a successful conference at the Earth Summit Rio+20, to be held in Brazil in 2012.