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A Day in the Life of a COP Chief Negotiator


Republic of Fiji


A Day in the Life of a COP Chief Negotiator

For Master Timoci Naulusala


Ambassador Nazhat Shameem Khan

Chief Negotiator for Fiji at COP 23

 At COP 23, for the first time, a child opened the High Level Segment. 12 year old Timoci Naulusala of Naivicula in Wainibuka, Tailevu transfixed a room full of experienced (but exhausted) climate negotiators with a speech which showed courage, and confidence. When he had finished and joined the Fijian delegation on the floor of the COP, I asked him how he felt. He said, “Good”. A fairly typical low key, casual and unfazed Tailevu response. He then asked me “Aunty, are you the Chief Negotiator? What does a Chief Negotiator do?” After a speechless moment I decided to record what I did on a typical day at COP 23 for Timoci and everyone else (including me sometimes) who was not sure what job I did

5am – Gym with IPad to read the negotiators’ briefs from the night before.

6am - Breakfast whilst typing and sending an emailed brief to the Prime Minister and COP 23 President summarising the negotiations briefs and highlighting negotiations highs and lows for his attention.

7am– Get dressed for the day.

– Leave for the Conference Centre.

8am- Meeting of the Presidency Negotiations team and Communications Advisor Ben Simmonds for an overview on negotiations priorities for the day and to give the negotiators instructions on how to proceed during the day.

9am– Preparation for plenaries (Opening, Closing, Stocktake, APA, SBSTA, SBI) or for Presidency dialogues and events with UNFCCC Secretariat to ensure a calm and consensus driven process for the Prime Minister.

10am – 11am- Open Dialogue between States and Observers chaired by Ambassador Deo Saran.

 11am – 1pm- Bilateral meetings with Groups (G77 plus China, AOSIS, LDC’s, EU, Umbrella Group, African Group, Environmental Integrity Group, Like Minded Developing Countries) on Talanoa Dialogue, or Paris Agreement Work Programme or other issues which needed guidance from the Presidency on the negotiations.

1pm– Bureau of COP Meeting chaired by the Prime Minister.

2pm    Coordination meeting with the UNFCCC team on the Talanoa Dialogue.

3 - 4pm– Press Conference.

4pm -  Closing Speech at UNICEF event in the Bonn Zone (Action Agenda event featuring young Shalvi Shakshi of Fiji).

5pm    Preparation for Stocktaking Plenary UNFCCC Secretariat.

7pm    Coordination Meeting with Executive Secretary UNFCCC, chairs of subsidiary bodies, Presidency team, and UNFCCC Secretariat.

9pm    Debrief Meeting with Chief of Staff Robyn Ann Mani and PM’s Advisor.

10pm – Bed

  1. Options available if lucky

Food other than breakfast.

Ability to respond to WhatsApp messages from anxious family members asking how I was.

Coffee (this was a real sacrifice).

  1. Unexpected and Welcome Gifts

The goodwill of the parties, the support of Germany and the UNFCCC, and many new friendships.

The enthusiasm and dedication of non-State Actors.

Free Columbian organic chocolate on arrival at the Conference Centre.

The Fiji Police Band singing songs from my childhood in the Bonn and Bula Zones.

Nazhat Shameem Khan

3rd January 2018

Fiji Mission to the UN










Suva, Fiji