COP23 is the informal name for the 23rd Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC was adopted in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit, which marked the beginning of the international community’s first concerted effort to confront the problem of climate change. Known also as the Rio Convention, the UNFCCC established a framework for action to stabilise concentrations of greenhouse gases in the earth’s atmosphere. The UNFCCC entered into force in 1994, and nearly all of the world’s nations—a total of 195—have now signed on.
Each year the parties to the agreement convene to assess progress in implementing the convention and, more broadly, dealing with climate change. The first Conference of the Parties was held in Berlin in 1995. In 1997, the participants established the Kyoto Protocol, which included legally binding obligations for developed countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Since 2005 the Conferences have carried another name: CMP. This stands for Conference of the Parties Serving as the Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, and so COP23 will also be known as CMP13.
At COP21, held in Paris in November-December 2015, the parties negotiated what is known as the Paris Agreement, which established specific actions and targets for reducing greenhouse gases emissions, mitigating and adapting to the effects of climate change, and financing mitigation and adaptation efforts in developing countries. The agreement took effect nearly a year later. Signatory countries agreed to work to limit global temperature rise to below 2 degrees Celsius and to make strong efforts to keep the rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Paris Agreement is especially significant because it is a legally binding agreement.
Fiji is presiding over COP23 in Bonn with the support of the government of Germany. The conference is expected to draw nearly 50,000 participants from government, intergovernmental organisations, UN agencies, NGOs and civil society, including some 30,000 official delegates.