Law for the Community and the World: VLS at COP20

Today’s work by the VLS delegation at COP20/CMP10 walked the talk of the law school’s motto, Lex Pro Urbe et Orbe.

The 10 delegation students are engaged in a service learning project with the Myanmar State Party IMG_5233Delegation, one of around 50 Least Developed Country (LDC) parties who have signed the UNFCCC and its Kyoto Protocol.  LDC delegations are typically very small.  For example, while delegations like China, the EU, and the US each numbered over 100 members at COP19, Myanmar’s delegation counted only two.  To effectively engage in the negotiations literally requires being in at least three places at once.  Exhibit A: Today’s ADP contact group split into two concurrent sessions on adaptation and finance, while at the same time sessions took place in the SBI, SBSTA, and joint SBSTA/SBI – not to mention a half dozen side events.

To build capacity, the VLS delegation is supporting Myanmar in three key ways.  First, we are tracking negotiation sessions on topics of interest (ADP, LDM, CDM, REDD+), taking notes when this small UNFCCC state party delegation cannot attend and thereby multiplying its presence at COP20.  We are then briefing Myanmar on these meetings both in writing and orally.  In addition, we prepared two rounds of pre-COP briefing memos.  The first set focused on COP process and procedure, to help Myanmar more effectively navigate the UNFCCC negotiations. The second set presented research and analysis on these four issues of interest, to help this LDC delegation prepare for the COP20/CMP10 negotiation.

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Shaula (center) briefs Myanmar delegates on LDM issues.

Today our first-week team’s LDM expert, Shaula Eakins, briefed the delegation on the first two days of negotiations and side events on point.  Likewise Whitney Beckham, the first-week team’s expert on ADP Workstream 2, briefed our Myanmar colleagues on opportunities for funding under the Green Climate Fund (GCF).  In this way, students learn while serving and serve while learning – and extend the reach of VLS beyond our Vermont and U.S. borders.