Rules of Procedure and reports submission

Legal assistance paper

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Date produced: 02/12/2010

1. What is the procedure for officially submitting to the UNFCCC a report that was not prepared by the UNFCCC? (specifically, this query relates to the recent UNEP report on the “gigatonne gap”) 

2. What is the legal significance of submitting a report to the UNFCCC? Does it enable or obligate consideration of the report in a way that differs from reports not officially submitted to the UNFCCC?

3. What procedure was followed in order to submit the report of the High-Level Advisory Group on Finance to the UNFCCC? (we understand this was done by Ethiopia.)


There is no formal procedure to submit reports that have not been prepared by or for the UNFCCC and, as general rule, such documents will not be formally considered by the COP or COP/MOP. This notwithstanding, Parties (and observer organisations) can reference concerns raised in external reports (e.g. the UNEP report) in their interventions.  The UNEP report may also be raised politically through statements in the high level segments.

Intergovernmental organisations such as UNEP may present reports to the SBSTA.

SBSTA may use any report presented to it to fulfil its function to summarize and convert the scientific, technical, socio-economic and other information provided by competent bodies. However officially presented the report does not have any formal legal consequences.

The report of the High-Level Advisory Group on Finance was presented to the UNFCCC. We believe that this was bymeans of letter to the president of the COP.

1. The need for institutional cooperation is specifically recognised in the UNFCCC. Article 7.2(1) UNFCCCC mandated the COP to:

“seek out and utilize, where appropriate, the services and cooperation of, and information provided by, competent international organizations and intergovernmental…bodies”

Intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) outside the UNFCCC have frequently submitted reports to the UNFCCC. This has frequently been through SBSTA based on its mandate to draw upon ‘existing competent international bodies ’. This means that “cooperation with relevant international organizations” has been a standing item on SBSTA’s agenda, providing the mechanism for the Parties to discuss, and take action on, linkages an interaction between UNFCCC and other regimes/bodies.

The submission of a report may arise either because:

(1) it has been requested by UNFCCC subsidiary bodies (e.g. SBSTA) and is then presented to that body; or

(2) it has been independently prepared by the IGO and is presented to the relevant UNFCCC body under the IGO’s own initiative. Examples include the work of GCOS. Another notable example of material presented to the UNFCCC include a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in relation to climate change and health . The report could be presented e.g. during a meeting of the subsidiary body

UNEP has previously presented its guidelines for reporting on vulnerability and adaptation and these are now reference in the broader FCCC guidelines .

2. Further to the functions of the SBSTA under Article 9.2(a) UNFCCC, COP Decision 6/CP.1 has clarified that the SBSTA must:

(a) Summarize and, where necessary, convert the latest international scientific, technical, socio-economic and other information provided by competent bodies including, inter alia, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), into forms appropriate to the needs of the Conference of the Parties, including in support of the review of the adequacy of commitments;

(b) Compile and synthesize scientific, technical and socio-economic information on the global situation on climate change, provided by, inter alia, the IPCC, as well as on the latest developments in science, to the extent possible, and assess the implications thereof for the implementation of the Convention; and formulate requests to competent international scientific and technical bodies.

Therefore, to the extent that SBSTA is aware of any relevant information from a report presented to it, the information may be contained in summaries and assessments made by SBSTA for the Parties. However, “official” submission of a report does not have any particular legal consequences or enable or obligate consideration of the report in a different way.

3. The report of the High-Level Advisory Group to the UN Secretary-General on Climate Change Finance report was presented to the UN Secretary-General by letter from the Prime Ministers of Ethiopia and Norway (being the Co-Chairs of the Group) and also to the previous and current president of the COP .