COP – 15 Biodiversity Summit concludes, and the Anglican Diocese of Montreal was present to the end
As I expected, COP-15 was never going to end on time. Looking at that time of 6.00pm on Sunday evening as the posted start time for the Final Plenary I said to myself – No, it will never happen. So, I decided to leave my house at around 8pm to get there early!
It was snowing all day Sunday, so I wasn’t looking forward to walking at night in the slippery conditions to get to the venue – but, once again I was pleasantly surprised. The city was on form and all roads and sidewalks in and around the COP venue were ploughed and sanded and easily accessible.
As I was heading in, I saw a few people leaving and thought – just for a second- surely, I haven’t missed the closing! Silly me. Anyway, I checked into the Faith-based kiosk to see if anyone was around – there wasn’t – and to dump my coat in the convenient space under the counter. Thus freed, I then went looking around the 2nd floor – it was eerily empty – everyone was upstairs on the 5th floor in the Plenary room.
A quick elevator ride later I was in the room. The podium was empty of course – yet the room was full of people – chatting, eating, writing, and setting up cameras (the journalists) everywhere. I quickly found the Faith-based assigned seating, where I encountered Grove Harris of The Temple of Understanding, and Samuel Chiu of A ROCHA – Environmental Stewardship. They were chatting away so I parked myself beside them at the table.
Looking around I was able to spy quite a few of my former UN colleagues, all of them busily rushing here and there – or deep in conversations with delegates and friends. Not wanting to interrupt I decided to check the Secretariat Offices — if I could sneak my way in past the UN Security. Luckily, there was no need for that as it was all open – no security in sight on the last night. I saw several colleagues I had not seen for 5 years, and even encountered some delegates from the Budget Sub-Committee who recognised me and we reminisced about the old days.
After meeting and greeting, chatting and snacking, I returned to the Plenary Room, where the Faith-Based table was now fully occupied with four more people – Amy, Gopal, Wesley and Alex. Together with Grove and Samuel we formed quite a large delegation!
Samuel and Amy were periodically checking the latest document updates, whilst Grove and I speculated about when the Plenary would actually begin – it was already past 10.30 pm by then. I saw David – the COP Secretary (and former colleague) in the room and we quickly ambushed him to see if he could give us a heads-up as to the starting time. He hummed and hawed and eventually said that we should be underway before midnight. We dutifully took this info back to our group.
Samuel and I started talking and he told me a bit about the work his organization was doing – as a Christian organization which engages in scientific research, environmental education, and sustainable agriculture. I told him about the Anglican Stewardship of the Environment Committee and about the Net Zero project for Churches. I was delighted when he said he already knew about our Net Zero program.
Grove was dutifully looking through the final draft of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) preparatory to having to explain its contents to her community, and the others were equally fixated on their computers, when I glanced up and saw the CBD Executive Secretary’s Assistant (a good friend) near the podium, so I rushed over to get the latest news. Sure enough, when I told her we had been told ‘before midnight’ for a starting time – she just rolled her eyes. I asked her – so when? Her answer was – “You know you can watch it live on-line . . . ”
I got the picture and decided that it was time to go home. Said goodnight to the group and headed back downstairs for my coat. By then it was 11.30 pm and downstairs was deserted. The music had stopped and no one was around – except at this one food station that was still open – there was a line around the block there . . . hungry delegates getting fueled up for the long night ahead.
I got home before midnight and jumped onto my computer to follow the Plenary online. I likely fell asleep at around 1.45 am — it still hadn’t started. I woke up at around 6.00 am and was finally able to watch. It was quite the show – but we finally got there – the Global Biodiversity Framework was adopted to great applause a little past 3.30 am on Monday 19 December 2022!
The Faith-based gang hung in there to the sweet end – forming a part of the general acclaim in the room.