Reflections on COP23 - Alexis Armstrong

COP 23

Armstrong Alexis

UNDP Deputy Resident Representative



Having just returned, from Bonn, I reflect on whether or not #COP23 was a success. Whilst negotiations may not have resulted in exactly what any side of the north/south divide wanted, I am reminded of the words of an Iranian diplomat who said that a compromise is a status agreed upon that does not fully satisfy the demands of either side. From that perspective, there were successes in the negotiations which I will not outline here.


This was deemed the first small islands (SIDS) COP. Under the presidency of Fiji, SIDS of the Pacific were ubiquitously present. The Bula Zone was active with palpitating negotiations whilst the Bonn Zone beamed with exciting side events, presentations about climate change, and efforts to protect the environment.  I had the opportunity to attend a JCCP side event as well as the signing of an emergency post-disaster reconstruction financing initiative between the Caribbean Development Bank and the European Investment Bank.  Chairman of CARICOM and Prime Minister of Grendada, Hon Keith Mitchell, along with Presidents of the CDB and EIB presided over the ceremony.  SG of CARICOM, PM of St. Lucia and other Senior officials from the Caribbean were in attendance.  UNDP Suriname/REDD+ Suriname staged a side event that was well attended. The SG of CARICOM as well as the Executive of ACTO were in attendance.  I also attended a GCCA+ event, staged by the European Union and featured GCCA+ projects in Haiti, Indonesia, and Madagascar. I had the opportunity to meet the UNDP Administrator.


25 thousand people traversed the corridors of the conference and many were excited to share their work with the rest of the world. With all the limelight on SIDS I felt a void. The islands of the Caribbean, though present as individual states, were not as visible as our Pacific sister states. The #OECSCommission certainly appeared more coordinated than #CARICOM and I cannot help but feel our region missed out on showcasing our efforts to fight climate change in the way the Pacific was able to do.


On a personal note I felt honored to have been asked by the government of Suriname to be a part of their delegation. I offered support to my delegation and I sense it was appreciated and well received.


All things equal COP 23 was a success. My wish is to have tangible results - results that will address the vulnerabilities of SIDS.