Coming from an engineering background where things are usually straightforward and data-driven, delving into the world of international climate negotiations has been a tough road for me. These negotiations have a history that’s more about geopolitics than just climate issues. Where each country brings their needs and positions to reach a consensus on diverse topics.

Attending COP28 was a unique and overwhelming experience, given the hundreds of daily events spread across nearly 90 meeting rooms of the seven buildings in the blue zone. Here I will summarize the events I attended in my first week and share my impressions thereof.

Starting with ambition?

The first day of COP28 began with a historic moment expected by many countries, as it was agreed to establish a new fund for losses and damage for developing countries to help them face the impacts of climate change. Countries demonstrated their commitment by pledging to the fund, UAE has pledged $100 million, in contrast to countries such as the US that had pledged only $17.5million. While this announcement garnered positive reception from many attendees, I could overhear some skeptics express concern that this initial commitment would represent the only zenith of achievements for COP28.

Negotiators’ busy schedule

I had met young negotiators from Latin America while participating in the G77 + China coordination meetings. They were selected from rigorous competitions in their respective countries and trained since the beginning of the year. One of them was Ivette from Chile, actively involved in the Capacity Building negotiations and participated in the negotiation and consultation meetings. I was also able to connect with Vida from Colombia, who was observing the JW on Agriculture negotiations with me. Additionally, I was able to reconnect with a former colleague from Peru, Almendra, with whom I previously collaborated on sustainability projects at the Peruvian B-Corp Libelula. Just like them, there were many more young people with high expectations and energy to participate alongside the negotiators of their countries. Their presence exemplified a broader cohort of young enthusiasts, full of optimism and energy, eager to contribute alongside their country’s negotiators.

Furthermore, I had the opportunity to connect with experienced negotiators from countries such as Chile, Bolivia, and Peru. It was interesting to listen to their impressions after the coordination meetings. Those conversations allowed me to understand the complexity of the expected progress in the agriculture negotiation, including the distinct blocs of countries and their respective positions. This thematic negotiation only had negotiation meetings scheduled during the first week and a quick agreement was expected to be reached in that time.

Unfortunately, as the days passed, reaching an agreement proved to be difficult. I was able to witness the working meetings of the G77 + China in the mornings, the informal consultations of all countries in the afternoon and sometimes even into the evening. Common opinions echoed the desire of many countries to make progress or “move forward”. I could hear that many nations agreed on elements of the Joint Work, others explained their priorities and red lines. However, despite these extensive negotiations, no agreement was reached, and the Joint Work negotiation was postponed to June 2024.

Peru Pavilion

During the intervals between negotiation meetings, I took the opportunity to visit different pavilions of Latin American countries, finding a sense of familiarity and comfort at the Peru pavilion. The Ministry of Environment of Peru prepared a comprehensive agenda that highlighted the role of indigenous communities in forest preservation. I was able to participate in the inauguration event, where business representatives, indigenous leaders, and young participants shared our expectations. In addition, I could attend the first Peruvian delegation meeting, where the country’s position was presented, negotiators explained the progress of each thematic, and other delegation members made their presentations.

Undoubtedly, this COP was an enriching experience for me. As an international student, it allowed me to closely follow the negotiations, connect with young negotiators, and reconnect with a feeling of belonging within the Peru pavilion.