A Day in the Life of a COP Chief Negotiator

Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan
Chief Negotiator for Fiji at COP23

At COP 23, for the first time, a child opened the High Level Segment. 12 year old Timoci Naulusala of Naivicula in Wainibuka, Tailevu transfixed a room full of experienced (but exhausted) climate negotiators with a speech which showed courage, and confidence. When he had finished and joined the Fijian delegation on the floor of the COP, I asked him how he felt. He said, “Good”. A fairly typical low key, casual and unfazed Tailevu response. He then asked me “Aunty, are you the Chief Negotiator? What does a Chief Negotiator do?” After a speechless moment I decided to record what I did on a typical day at COP 23 for Timoci and everyone else (including me sometimes) who was not sure what job I did.

5am – Gym with IPad to read the negotiators briefs from the night before.

6am – Breakfast whilst typing and sending an emailed brief to the Prime Minister and COP 23 President summarising the negotiations briefs and highlighting negotiations highs and lows for his attention.

7am – Get dressed for the day.

7.30am – Leave for the Conference Centre.

8am – Meeting of the Presidency Negotiations team and Communications Advisor Ben Simmonds for an overview on negotiations priorities for the day and to give the negotiators instructions on how to proceed during the day.

9am – Preparation for plenaries (Opening, Closing, Stocktake, APA, SBSTA, SBI) or for Presidency dialogues and events with UNFCCC Secretariat to ensure a calm and consensus driven process for the Prime Minister.

10am–11am – Open Dialogue between States and Observers chaired by Ambassador Deo Saran.

11pm – 1pm – Bilateral meetings with Groups (G77 plus China, AOSIS, LDC’s, EU, Umbrella Group, African Group, Environmental Integrity Group, Like Minded Developing Countries) on Talanoa Dialogue, or Paris Agreement Work Programme or other issues which needed guidance from the Presidency on the negotiations.

1pm– Bureau of COP Meeting chaired by the Prime Minister.

2pm​Coordination meeting with the UNFCCC team on the Talanoa Dialogue.

3-4pm – Press Conference.

4pm – Closing Speech at UNICEF event in the Bonn Zone (Action Agenda event featuring young Shalvi Shakshi of Fiji).

5pm​ – a Preparation for Stocktaking Plenary UNFCCC Secretariat.

7pm​ – Coordination Meeting with Executive Secretary UNFCCC, chairs of subsidiary bodies, Presidency team, and UNFCCC Secretariat.

9pm​ – Debrief Meeting with Chief of Staff Robyn Ann Mani and PM’s Advisor.

10pm – Bed

Unexpected and Welcome Gifts

  • The goodwill of the parties, the support of Germany and the UNFCCC, and many new friendships.
  • The enthusiasm and dedication of non-State Actors.
  • Free Columbian organic chocolate on arrival at the Conference Centre.
  • The Fiji Police Band singing songs from my childhood in the Bonn and Bula Zones.

Nazhat Shameem Khan
3rd January 2018
Fiji Mission to the UN