Day One

30 November 2010 | Event

The 16th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) kicked off today in Cancún with the traditional pomp and circumstance of an opening ceremony, writes Claire Parker, IUCN’s Senior Climate Change Policy Adviser.

President Calderón himself presided over this one, surrounded among others by the meeting's President-to-be Patricia Espinoza, Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Chistiana Figueres, UNFCCC Executive Secretary, and a representative of the Indigenous Peoples of Central Mexico. We were treated to some inspiring (if somewhat lengthy) speeches, each emphasising the urgency of the task at hand - working towards an equitable, comprehensive, legally-binding international agreement on climate change as soon as it could be achieved.

Parties and Observers arrived here with modest expectations: no final deal would be reached, but there was hope for a balanced set of decisions that would pave the way for an agreement later in the decade. When the COP itself started, opening statements from many negotiating groups called for a spirit of compromise to make this possible in the coming two weeks.

Thanks to the very good work of our communication team, IUCN got lots of good press coverage today - for example, Stewart Maginnis was quoted by the BBC saying "What governments should focus on in Cancún is ensuring that confidence in the UNFCCC (climate convention) process is rebuilt, which will bring us a step closer to that final deal."

Some of the logistics surrounding this conference have, once again, proven challenging to the participants, especially the transport arrangements to ferry participants form a large numbers of hotels dotting the Cancún coastline and stretching southwards to the Mayan Riviera. But all in all, the sunny weather helping, people were in good spirits on this first day.