Cop23 Largest conference in Germany comes to Bonn

Bonn · The Federal Ministry for the Environment is responsible for all the technical aspects of the World Climate Conference. In an interview with the General Anzeiger, Stefan Süsterhenn from the Ministry talks about organisational difficulties.

Herr Süsterhenn, have you ever had to prepare for an event of the size of Cop23?

Stefan Süsterhenn: No. At least not an event like this one, which will be the largest ever international conference in Germany.

What is the greatest challenge for you?

Stefan Süsterhenn: That we only had eleven months’ lead-time to prepare ourselves for it. We had two years’ lead-time for the World Biodiversity Conference that we organised in Bonn in 2008. That’s what you normally need. Also, there were far fewer participants then than will be the case this time. We are lucky that many colleagues here in our offices are working with great commitment. We were also able to bring back colleagues who are already retired but who have a lot of experience in organising such large-scale events.

Who from your Ministry is responsible for what?

Stefan Süsterhenn: We have formed three project teams. One is responsible for traffic, security planning, accommodation, budgeting, contracts and especially all the issues surrounding the erecting of the tent cities. This team is led by Beate Frey-Stilz, a head of division in the Environment Ministry. She was originally an architect so knows a lot about the subject matter. The second team, which consists mainly of employees from the climate protection department, is responsible for the programme, the so-called side events and the diplomatic-political questions surrounding the conference preparations in the Bonn-Zone, in close cooperation with the UN Climate Secretariat.

And then, of course, we have the team that looks after public relations and press work. Leadership of this project rests with my colleague, Eva Kracht, a deputy director in the climate department, and me. We have a regular day in the week when the current state of play is discussed by all three teams. We also have numerous consultations with all those involved, such as the UN, the Federal Foreign Office, the Ministry of Development Aid, the states of NRW and Rhineland-Pfalz as well as the police and the city of Bonn.

Who is responsible for the programme? Who decides with whom which events run when?

Stefan Süsterhenn: The programme was put out to tender worldwide by the Climate Change Secretariat. All participants such as states, UN organisations, cities, trade associations and non-governmental organisations took part in the process. The 400 or so events planned for the Bonn-Zone were then determined. There are also numerous events taking place in the pavilions of the respective countries and organisations.

Will delegates be accompanied, ie looked after personally?

Stefan Süsterhenn: Liaison officers have been engaged through agencies for high-ranking delegates such as heads of state and government. They were all checked, of course. They will accompany these delegates from their arrival point, i.e. from the airport, until they leave again. Ministers will be supported and accompanied by their own delegations, and, of course, we and the Climate Change Secretariat are available to answer any questions. For all other participants, there are internet offers for all events and negotiations. Together with the UN Volunteers Programme, we have also engaged 650 volunteers, who will be present at airports and train stations in the region, as well as at the conference venues, to provide advice and support to participants. They can be identified by their white t-shirts with the Cop23 logo. We have been able to find them from all over the world.

Are they there on a completely voluntary basis?

Stefan Süsterhenn: Yes. They will get food and a unique chance to take part in the Cop.

Which questions are you most frequently asked?

Stefan Süsterhenn: Whether we will have constructed the temporary conference venues in time: a definite yes! Or the question whether we are expecting conditions like at the G20 Summit in Hamburg: a definite no. That is at least what the police assure us.

Which questions can’t you answer at the moment?

Stefan Süsterhenn: The question of the exact number of participants. We are estimating up to 25,000. But the registration is still open and will also not be closed after the start of Cop23.

How expensive will Cop23 be for the Federal Government in the end?

Stefan Süsterhenn: We have calculated 117 million Euros, of which 17 million has been made available by the Foreign Office for the rental of the WCCB. That will be enough overall.

(Original text: Lisa Inhoffen)

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