Sunday, June 14, 2009

Buzz No 3: COP this !

We've gone Beyond, we've been through complicity … now it's time for … coffee… nope, not yet …it's time for COP. Lots of buzz about COP in Istanbul. Actually, there are two types of COP. There is COP, or even notable COP. And COP15. (Don't ask me about COP 2 – 14). So let's make a start with plain ole COP and then move upstage to 15.

COP = Communication On Progress
This is what participants do once they have confirmed their participation in the Global Compact of the United Nations. You all know the Global Compact, right? It's a framework of 10 principles relating to the responsibilities of business to uphold human rights and labor standards, and to work to improve environmental impacts and anti-corruption. The UNGC has over 5,000 participants from all over the world and is supported by a web of networks who advance active application of the principles. It was in this context that I joined the Human Rights Working Group meetings last week in Istanbul. A COP is a mandatory annual communication for participating companies to publish the ways in which they are advancing the UNGC principles. Guidance on how to write a COP can be found here. A "notable" COP is one which the UNGC team finds to be particularly comprehensive and clear, and a model for others, for example here. Finally, businesses which do not communicate get kicked out. Which is as it should be, right ? COP is a kind of voluntary corporate disclosure, i.e. a report, which means that COPs fit perfectly into this reporting blog. Might just do a little COP analysis over the next few weeks. Once i get past the buzz.

COP15 = Copenhagen 15
This is way the climate-connected refer to the meeting which will take place in Copenhagen (COPenhagen .. COP … get it ? ), the United Nations Climate Change Conference on December 7 to December 18, 2009. It's a kinda climate change annual hot spot (geez, that pun thing again). The Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted in 1997, sets binding targets for 37 industrialized countries and the European community for reducing greenhouse gas emissions at the rate of an average 5% against 1990 levels between 2008-2012. At the 13th conference in Bali it was decided to work towards an agreement for the subsequent years. This agreement is to be negotiated in Copenhagen in 2009. Stakes are pretty high, it seems, as the influences on emission reduction decisions are dominated by economic-geo-political decisions, especially relating to China and India. By now, if you follow my blog, you will realize that I am not terribly competent about things environmental, so I contented myself with a quick look at the conference guide. Connie Hedegaard, the Danish Minister for Climate and Energy says : “We must move the world from an era of talk to an era of change” In this spirit, it is important to know that attending Heads of State will be offered eco-friendly transportation, and other conference travel will be offset. Towels in hotels will be shared on a one-to-four-rooms basis, and specially constructed conference seating will enable participants to peddle in-situ to generate energy to power their laptops. (so what if I got a little carried away). Follow the conference on Twitter , Facebook ,
take the climate quiz (I got 7 out of 10, which proves that this quiz was designed with first graders in mind, and it helps if you are Danish). I can't help being impressed with the locations of all these climate change conferences: Berlin, Rio, Kyoto, Bali, Copenhagen, New Delhi, Poznan, Marrakesh, Milan, Nairobi, Montreal etc … how about next year in Darfur, Mogadishu, Gaza, Karachi, Teheran or Baghdad ? Anyway, you have until Dec 7 to place your bets on COP15 outcomes. Cop that?

What else was buzzing in Istanbul ? Stick around to find out. It was a really buzzful week.

elaine cohen is the joint CEO of BeyondBusiness, a leading reporting and social-environmental consulting firm based in Israel. Visit our website at:

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