At the beginning... history of the birth of the Convention and first meetings:

Considering what said regarding the history of the development Climate change and environmental protection came to the public attention in the Seventies. From considering "Environment" as a whole, gradually it's various topics earned their own positions and discussions.

Scientific evidence of human interference with climate first emerged in the international arena in 1979 at the first World Climate Conference.
In 1988 the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 43/53, proposed by the Government of Malta, urging: “ of global climate for present and futures generations of mankind...”

In the same year the United Nations Environment Program and the World Meteorological Organization created a new body: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts (

In 1990 IPCC produced its first report, that confirmed the serious threat of climate change.
The General Assembly of United Nation responded by passing resolution 45/212, formally launching negotiations on a a convention on climate change.

June 1992: Rio de Janeiro saw the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit). The Agenda 21 was here adopted, tackling environmental issues and bonding them forever to the whole development discourse.
At this world summit, three conventions were adopted on Biodiversity, Desertification, and Climate Change

The new convention on climate change ( United Nations Framework on Climate Change) was opened, and ten years later it had been joined by 188 states and the European Community. It has been the main international instrument of the IPCC. Since it entered into force, those countries that have ratified (called Parties of the convention), have met annually at the Conference of the Parties (COP).

First COP (Berlin COP1) was in Berlin in 1995: here it had been discussed more detailed commitments for industrialized countries, these are also known as the “Berlin Mandate”.

Best known COP was probably COP 3 in 1997 in Kyoto. The main core of Kyoto COP was The Kyoto Protocol that, after two years of intensive negotiations, provided for legally binding commitments to emission cuts. It was required a separate formal process of signature, where different “types” of countries had different commitments.

Cop 16 - Cancun

COP16 is the 16th edition of Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP) and the 6th Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP), which meets every year between the months of November and December to agree international efforts on climate change. “Parties” refers to all the national states that signed and ratified both of the international treaties, committing to observe and comply with its terms regarding international cooperation against climate change. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has been signed by 194 State Partiesand the Kyoto Protocol has been ratify by 184 State Parties. The COP16 was held in Cancun (Mexico) from 29 November to 10 December 2010.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change classifies Conference participants into the following categories:

  • States Parties
  • Observer States
  • Observer Organizations
à Intergovernmental Observers (IGO's)
à UN, specialized agencies and related organizations
à Non-Governmental Observers (NGO's)

The main issues of the agenda concerned the matter of climate finance, in particular:
  • how the funding should be distributed to developing countries
  • the issue of REDD plus, Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation
  • how countries should reduce their carbon emissions and at what level they should cut back

The main results of the two-week UNFCCC negotiations meeting are:
  • to limit global temperature rise to 2°C
  • the establishment of a "Green Climate Fund" that will channel 100 billion dollars per year to developing countries in order to promote green technologies and to stop deforestation
  • a partial success on the issue of REDD plus that will promote a new kind of international cooperation in the forest sector [1] [2]
  • the voluntary reduction of greenhouse-effect gas from 20% to 40% by 2020.

    For the first time in the history of the UN Conventions on Climate a decision was made despite the disagreement of one country (Bolivia): the Mexican presidency made this possible, avoiding the failure of the meeting but this will probably have important consequences on the functioning of next meetings.

Cop 17 - Durban

The COP17 is the 17th edition of Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP) that was celebrated in Durban, South Africa from 28 Novembre to 9 December 2011. The president of the COP17 was MS Maite Nkoana – Mashabane, the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation. The mainissues discussed at COP17 were: - United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
- The Kyoto Protocol.
- The Bali Action Plan, agreed at the thirteenth Conference of the Parties (COP 13) in 2007.
- The Cancun Agreements, reached at the COP 16 in December.

The COP17 discussed about a global climate regime and a new binding treaty to replace the agreements signed on the Kyoto Protocol a decade ago.

Among the objectives raised in Durban, on climate change issues, and to modify the arrangements in previous summits were:
o Sealing a second phase of the Kyoto Protocol, the only treaty that binds 36 developed countries to reduce emissions in the period 2008-2012.
o Review the commitments of the parties to keep global temperatures below 1.5 °.
o Reduce from 25% to 40% emissions by 2030, making records for twenty years.
o Define some aspects of the Green Fund established at COP16, such as who will provided the fund (public, private and multilateral) and how distributed.

The Future:
Cop 18 - Doha
COP18 will be 18th edition of Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP) that has the objective of establish an agreement related to climate change. The UN announced that the city of Doha, will be the next host for the conference on climate change.
The COP 18, serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol in Doha (Qatar) from 26 November to 7 December 2012, has the responsibility to comply with agreements not made in previous conferences. For that reason, the main topics that will be discuses during the COP 18 are closely related to:
1. To ensure that global warming stays well below two degrees Celsius, the industrialized nations must commit themselves to far more drastic reductions in emissions than in the first Kyoto period.
2. This time the new agreement must include the United States of America, which signed the first Kyoto Protocol but did not ratify it.
3. To encourage India and China to take part with appropriate targets for Kyoto Phase Two, the industrialized nations need to achieve demonstrable progress in the absolute reduction of their greenhouse gas emissions.

COP 18 - DohaOn 26th November 2012 was opened in Qatar the eighteenth session of the Conference about climate change. Government officials, representatives of UN bodies and agencies, members of intergovernmental organizations and civil society organizations participated in this Conference.
The most important decision of the Conference is the formal adoption of the Second Commitment Period of Kyoto Protocol, but some countries – member of the Kyoto Protocol –have decided not to join the Second Commitment period. So only the European Union, Norway, Switzerland, Australia and a few others developed countries and countries with economies in transition have agreed to legally binding these commitments. In addition it was lunched a process to review the long-term temperature goal, that will start in 2013 and conclude by 2015.
The work of this meeting was criticized and defined “another lost opportunity” because, according with the critics, it did not bring new agreements and provisions to limit the greenhouse-gas emissions and to create new funds to help the poor countries to adapt (the Republic of Korea was selected as the location of the Green Climate Fund which is expected to start its work in the second half of 2013). Furthermore the rich countries, which have signed the Kyoto Protocol, have accepted ultra-modest new emissions targets for the period to 2020 and starting only from 2015. The achievement of the objective to keep the emission under 2°C seems very far because - to be reached - it requires a higher cutting of emissions for decades.
Positive results could be achieved by coordinating policies and technology transfer, together with the verification of the countries’ commitments. In this perspective Doha gave a contribution to remove procedural obstacles.

Progress made from the Earth Summit to Rio + 20

According to the OECD Development Co-operation report 2012 “the 1992 Rio Earth Summit brought about a cultural shift as citizens and governments alike became increasingly aware of the need to protect the environment as economies progress”.
It is said that in terms of environmental conservation, there has been remarkable progress since the 1992 Rio Conference in many areas. UNEP's recent report Towards a Green Economy documents many environmental indicators that demonstrate significant improvement (UNEP, 2011).
Nevertheless, there has been a big failure: the failure to mainstream environmental issues within sectoral policies and programmes. Many sector ministries have "washed their hands" of dealing with environmental issues, arguing that this is the role of ministries in charge of the environment.
The lack of a coherent approach has had clearly negative impacts, one of the most obvious examples being the persistence of subsidies for fossil-fuel-based energy in many countries.
Source: OECD (2012). Development Co-operation Report 2012: Lessons on Linkink Sustainability and Development, OECD Publishing.

Rio + 20 – Rio de Janeiro

Rio +20 is the United Nation Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD) that has taken place in Brazil on 20-22 June 2012. It's date marked the 20th anniversary of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), in Rio de Janeiro, and the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in Johannesburg.Three intersessional meetings were established in order to prepare the Conference and to discuss substantive and procedural issues.The first one was in January 2010, the second one in the second half of 2010 and the third one not later than eight weeks prior to the Conference.
Rio+20 was the biggest UN convention that ever took place, it's resonance was universal and has managed to take advantage of the window of opportunity by channelling international community's momentum into new funding incomes, deeply welcomed especially in a moment where all countries' contributions have been diminishing.
The Conference had the following main objectives:
  • to secure renewed political commitment for sustainable development ;
  • to assess the progress to date and the remaining gaps in the implementation of the outcomes of the major summits on sustainable development ;
  • to address new and emerging challenges.
The main themes of the Conference will be:
  • green economy in the context of sustainable development and eradication of poverty ;
  • institutional framework for sustainable development.

The outcome document of the Convention is Resolution 66/288 "The Future we want" where the member States, after meeting with all stakeholders, gave a strong signal in favour of a turn towards implementation, further engagement at all levels and to further operationally push for more inclusive green economy measures. Each and every topic inside the environmental chapter has been discussed among professionals, governments, private sector and representatives of civil society.
Besides being a huge media success, the Conference has strongly influenced the UN system, to the point that it was decided to open UNEP to universal membership, with all 193 Member states represented.

One of the further outcomes, in light of 2015 getting closer, was the beginning of discussions on indicators of wealth inclusive of environmental issues to take the place of GDP and on Sustainable Development Goals to be integrated in the MDGs discussion.

Critics and protesters were not missing, first of all representatives of Indigenous people complained the lack of attention to the cultural dimension of sustainable development, and its lack of discussion. The convention also failed to touch the issue of consequences on environment of nuclear energy.
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