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Convention Bodies


Conference of the Parties

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is the "supreme body" of the Convention, that is, its highest decision-making authority. It is an association of all the countries that are Parties to the Convention.

The COP is responsible for keeping international efforts to address climate change on track. It reviews the implementation of the Convention and examines the commitments of Parties in light of the Convention’s objective, new scientific findings and experience gained in implementing climate change policies. A key task for the COP is to review the national communications and emission inventories submitted by Parties. Based on this information, the COP assesses the effects of the measures taken by Parties and the progress made in achieving the ultimate objective of the Convention.

The COP meets every year, unless the Parties decide otherwise. The COP meets in Bonn, the seat of the secretariat, unless a Party offers to host the session. Just as the COP Presidency rotates among the five recognized UN regions - that is, Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, Central and Eastern Europe and Western Europe and Others – there is a tendency for the venue of the COP to also shift among these groups.

Subsidiary Bodies

The Convention established two permanent subsidiary bodies: the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI). These bodies give advice to the COP and each has a specific mandate. They are both open to participation by any Party and governments often send representatives who are experts in the fields of the respective bodies.

As its name suggests, the task of the SBSTA is to provide the COP with advice on scientific, technological and methodological matters. Two key areas of work in this regard are promoting the development and transfer of environmentally-friendly technologies, and conducting technical work to improve the guidelines for preparing national communications and emission inventories. The SBSTA also carries out methodological work in specific areas, such as the LULUCF sector, HFCs and PFCs, and adaptation and vulnerability. In addition, the SBSTA plays an important role as the link between the scientific information provided by expert sources such as the IPCC on the one hand, and the policy-oriented needs of the COP on the other. It works closely with the IPCC, sometimes requesting specific information or reports from it, and also collaborates with other relevant international organizations that share the common objective of sustainable development.

The SBI gives advice to the COP on all matters concerning the implementation of the Convention. A particularly important task in this respect is to examine the information in the national communications and emission inventories submitted by Parties in order to assess the Convention’s overall effectiveness. The SBI reviews the financial assistance given to non-Annex I Parties to help them implement their Convention commitments, and provides advice to the COP on guidance to the financial mechanism (operated by the GEF). The SBI also advises the COP on budgetary and administrative matters.

The SBSTA and SBI work together on cross-cutting issues that touch on both their areas of expertise. These include capacity building, the vulnerability of developing countries to climate change and response measures, and the Kyoto Protocol mechanisms.

The SBSTA and the SBI have traditionally met in parallel, at least twice a year. When they are not meeting in conjunction with the COP, the subsidiary bodies usually convene at the seat of the secretariat.

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