The construction of the provisional structures required to make sure that all 20,000 plus delegates and visitors to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) scheduled November 6 to 17, 2017 in Bonn, Germany can be accommodated started this month and appears to be progressing as planned. The German government is building an impressive array of temporary buildings which will complement the existing World Conference Centre Bonn. UNFCCC Newsroom reporters, Mariana Castano Cano and Monica Lafaire Mejia, on Thursday, August 31, 2017 went to see to how things are going
A significant part of the COP23 provisional structures are right now being built in Bonn’s Rheinaue Park, where citizens of Bonn – and UN staff – normally go to relax at the week-end. On week days, the park, which features scenic lakes and flower beds, is populated by cyclists as well as office workers having their lunch-breaks. The park is also home to many ducks and swans that don’t seem scared or even bothered by the frantic building activity going on around them.
“If the weather is warm, maybe they will stay for the conference,” a German government official jokingly says about the birds.
The conference will be presided over by the Government of Fiji and is being organised by the UNFCCC secretariat with the support of the Government of Germany, in close collaboration with the State of North Rhine-Westphalia and the City of Bonn.
German Environment Minister, Barbara Hendricks, and her Environment Ministry (BMUB) team were on location in the Rheinaue Park this week to inform citizens, listen to their views and respond to their concerns about the provisional structures.
Construction started on August 14 and is progressing remarkably fast, with some two-stories tents already topped with hard-plastic roofs in the form of pyramids.
In order to appreciate the sheer scale of the project and the materials involved, one just has to look at the thousands of wooden panels waiting to be installed as the flooring of the tents. This flooring will cover a surface of 50,000 square meters.
“At the moment there are just 200 people working here. But, over the next two months, there will be more than 2,000 workers on site, out of a total 6,000 people working on the project.
Construction is progressing as planned and we expect to finish on time, by the end of October,” says Mr. Franz Emde, BMUB Spokesperson.
Two different tent complexes are being built, one close to the UN Campus and to the World Conference Center Bonn in “Bula Zone”; and a second complex at the heart of the Rheinaue Park, the “Bonn Zone”.
This is part of the concept of “one conference, two zones”. The so-called “Bula Zone” is where talks between governments will take place, and the “Bonn” Zone will host hundreds of events showcasing climate action, including some media activities and the pavilions of national delegations.
Ensuring the sustainability of the conference is a priority for the organisers. “The whole UN Climate Conference is certified under Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), a European certification system that takes into account the overall environmental footprint of the COP, from water to transportation and electrity,” Mr. Emde explains.
Preserving the natural environment of the Rheinaue Park and making sure Bonners and visitors can continue enjoying this green space is also a priority. Only a small part of the 160 hectares of the park will be used for the conference.
Even though the citizens who approached the German Environment Ministry staff did ask questions related to the construction or potential inconveniences they might experience during the two-weeks conference, most were more interested about learning how to be part of it.
The Ministry and the City of Bonn officials explained that there will be activities around the COP not only in the Bonn and Bula Zones – where the entrance will be limited to accredited participants – but that all around the city there will be events related to climate action, from scientific and cultural exhibitions to art and educational activities for all public, including youth.