How to obtain observer status

Admission as an observer organization


Admission as an observer organization

Organizations (non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs)) have to be admitted by the Conference of the Parties (COP) as observer organizations to the UNFCCC process before they can send representatives to attend any sessions or meetings of the UNFCCC.

While the organization does not need to repeat this process once admitted, it has to register its representatives through the Online Registration System in order for them to attend a session. The registration process for admitted observers is explained on the web pages for admitted IGOs and admitted NGOs, respectively.

Before applying for admission through the Online Admission System, please check whether your organization has already been admitted and review the information below:

Please also note that the UNFCCC admission process is independent from any status of an organization with ECOSOC, or other UN organizations and agencies.

The following documents contain important information on the process and eligibility as well as the required documents that must be submitted:

Standard admission process for NGOs Standard admission process for IGOs
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Deadline: organizations have to submit their application for admission by 31 August of the year preceding the COP at which admission as observer is sought. For background on the application timelines please see the information note on revised application timelines here.

Applications must be complete, including all required official documents and information as outlined in the respective standard admission process above, and have to be submitted within the deadline. Incomplete applications as of the deadline will be automatically deferred to the following review cycle.

Once admitted as observer, please find further information on the registration of representatives for sessions as well as other activities at the following links:

The UNFCCC secretariat has become aware that certain admitted observer organizations are using commercial business model packages to solicit business. As an inducement to sell these packages, potential clients are assured participation at UNFCCC conferences, sessions and meetings through quotas of admitted observer organizations. The UNFCCC secretariat would like to make clear that it does not endorse such practices nor does it charge any fees to anyone for participating in the UNFCCC process. Eligible participants are accredited only by the UNFCCC secretariat who upon issue of badges by the UNFCCC secretariat can enter conference, sessions and meetings venue and participate, subject to the relevant rules and regulations, in the activities organized by the UNFCCC secretariat including the UNFCCC side events and exhibits and UNFCCC Climate Change Studio.

Mandate and legal provisions

Admission as an observer organization to the UNFCCC is a one-off process. In accordance with FCCC/CP/1995/7, paragraph 22, organizations, once admitted, are eligible to attend future UNFCCC sessions and do not need to reapply for admission.

Article 7, paragraph 6, of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change provides for the admission of non-governmental organizations to sessions of the Convention bodies as observers. New applicant organizations are formally admitted by the Conference of the Parties following the successful completion of the admission process. Participation at sessions in between the SB sessions and the COP is limited to those organizations that have been provisionally admitted or admitted at previous COPs.

Mandate for admission


 Article 7, paragraph 6

"The United Nations, its specialized agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency, as well as any State member thereof or observers thereto not Party to the Convention, may be represented at sessions of the Conference of the Parties as observers.  Any body or agency, whether national or international, governmental or non-governmental, which is qualified in matters covered by the Convention, and which has informed the secretariat of its wish to be represented at a session of the Conference of the Parties as an observer, may be so admitted unless at least one third of the Parties present object.  The admission and participation of observers shall be subject to the rules of procedure adopted by the Conference of the Parties."

Eligibility procedures

The secretariat informed SBI 20 of its procedures concerning eligibility, which SBI duly noted (seeFCCC/SBI/2004/10, paragraph 100). These procedures provide, inter alia, that applicant organizations are required to provide:

  • A statement of competence in Convention matters;
  • Confirmation of independent juridical personality;
  • Confirmation of non-profit and/or tax-exempt status in a State member of the United Nations, or of one of its specialized agencies or of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or in a State Party to the International Court of Justice.

Furthermore, the procedures provide:

  • Multilateral agreements that do not establish an independent juridical entity are not considered eligible for admission;
  • Organizations which have been established by, and report to, governments and carry out government-mandated activities, but which cannot provide evidence of independence from government, are not considered eligible for admission. They are encouraged to participate as part of government delegations;
  • Organizations which carry out functions on behalf of governments, including activities relating to the flexible mechanisms, provided that they meet the criteria listed [...] above and that their governance structure is independent of governments, are considered eligible for admission.

Please see chapter II. "Admission of observer organizations" of FCCC/SBI/2004/5.

Single admission process for COP and CMP

Decision 36/CMP.1 (paragraph 2c)
"A single process would be used for the admission of observer organizations to sessions of the Conference of the Parties and of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol, with decisions on admission of observer organizations being taken by the Conference of the Parties."
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Deadlines for admission

The  information note on revised deadlines for admission stipulates that the deadline for applications for admission will be 31 August of the previous year.