by Noah Hodgetts
I’m going on three days straight sitting here in the hostel largely because I have been sick, but also because I have no place better to be considering that almost all NGOs have been shut out of the Bella Center since Tuesday. NGOs have been forced to follow conference proceedings from satellite locations unable to show their presence and voice their opinions in official COP proceedings as mandated by the The Aarhus Convention, which was ironically negotiated in Denmark and which the Danish government has ratified. Excluding civil society is not only a disgrace, but a violation of international law.
Although it is probably not my place to judge the Danish government as I cannot imagine the work they have put in to prepare for one of the biggest UN conferences ever, as a planner at heart I would like to point out a couple of issues:
1. Know how many people your conference center can hold! Although everyone including myself wanted to be at this conference, it does no one any good to accredit three times (45,000) the amount of people the center can legally hold (15,000). That the Danes didn’t know this or see this coming is inconceivable to me.
2. Adjust to circumstances accordingly. With mobs of accredited people with badges trying to get into the Bella Center, someone should be smart enough to separate the accredited and those seeking accreditation. That they had the same problem day after day and didn’t seek to remedy it is unacceptable. Even people with secondary badges had to wait in line with everyone else. And I was one of the lucky ones that only had to wait in line for an hour – some, even party members, were forced to wait in the cold for up to 8 hours on Monday.
3. Don’t hold an international conference, accredit thousands of NGOs and then shut them out of plenary sessions. Letting thousands of NGOs into the Bella Center only to let them roam the halls and attend side events is not why any of us spent countless hours fundraising the thousand-plus dollars we each needed to travel to Copenhagen!
I wish Mexico City best of luck in not repeating the mistakes of Copenhagen!