As the APA continues its work in preparation for the first meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement, the Compliance Mechanism and its modalities and procedures are beginning to get some well-deserved attention. This will facilitate implementation and promote compliance as established in Article 15, and should be open to inputs from the public.
While Parties are preparing submissions on modalities for the Transparency Framework and Global Stocktake, the APA Co-Chairs have articulated five “guiding questions” to facilitate deliberations in Marrakech on the Compliance Mechanism. These concern basic design issues: scope, operationalisation of differentiation, triggers, relationship with existing arrangements and the participation of the concerned Parties. Other design questions that will eventually need to be addressed by the APA include the relationship between the Compliance Mechanism and the Transparency Framework, as well as the role of the public.
As Parties prepare their responses, ECO recalls the heated debates in the ADP and COP21 regarding the legal form of NDCs. Ultimately, the view prevailed that a strong transparency and accountability system could secure greater effectiveness of the Agreement than a strict legal obligation to implement or achieve NDCs. A transparency and accountability system was thus established resting on three pillars: the Transparency Framework, the Global Stocktake and the Compliance Mechanism. Moreover, that system is the basis of the hybrid character of Paris; the top-down system of transparency and accountability was (and is) key to the credibility and viability of the bottom-up approach to mitigation.
ECO believes that a strong transparency system for the Paris Agreement requires the meaningful involvement of non-Party stakeholders. The design of the modalities and procedures for the Compliance Mechanism should therefore contemplate openings for the public to, inter alia: trigger investigations; submit relevant data and observations; challenge compliance data where it is inaccurate and access all relevant compliance documentation. Similar openings are needed for the Transparency Framework and the Global Stocktake. They may build on good practices found in other international forums.
These discussions are not expected to be completed at or by COP22. So, more time can be taken in answering the key question of how to operationalise a meaningful role for the public in the Compliance Mechanism. This should assist the Co-Chairs and the Parties in further refining their thinking about compliance modalities, and the future direction of those discussions.