The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) establishes a secretariat to support the Conference of the Parties (COP), its subsidiary bodies (the SBI and the SBSTA) and their Bureaux. Its mandate is to make arrangements for the sessions of the Convention bodies, to help Parties fulfil their commitments, to compile and disseminate data and information, and to confer with other relevant international agencies and treaties. The permanent secretariat has been hosted in Bonn, Germany, since 1996.
The functions of the UNFCCC Secretariat are set out in full in Article 8 of the UNFCCC:
- To make arrangements for sessions of the Conference of the Parties and its subsidiary bodies established under the Convention and to provide them with services as required;
- To compile and transmit reports submitted to it;
- To facilitate assistance to the Parties, particularly developing country Parties, on request, in the compilation and communication of information required in accordance with the provisions of the Convention;
- To prepare reports on its activities and present them to the Conference of the Parties;
- To ensure the necessary coordination with the secretariats of other relevant international bodies;
- To enter, under the overall guidance of the Conference of the Parties, into such administrative and contractual arrangements as may be required for the effective discharge of its functions; and
- To perform the other secretariat functions specified in the Convention and in any of its protocols and such other functions as may be determined by the Conference of the Parties (UNFCCC, Article 8(2)).
The secretariat is also required by the CDM modalities and procedures to maintain lists of Annex I and non-Annex I Parties:
The secretariat shall maintain publicly accessible lists of:
- Parties not included in Annex I which are Parties to the Kyoto Protocol;
- Parties included in Annex I that do not meet the requirements in paragraph 31 above or have been suspended (3/CMP.1, Annex, paragraph 34).
In addition to these requirements, the UNFCCC Secretariat is required to assist the Executive Board:
The secretariat shall service the Executive Board (3/CMP.1, Annex, paragraph 19; 4/CMP.1, Annex I, Rule 33).
To this end, staff and services are made available by the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC:
The Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC shall arrange for the provision of staff and services required for the servicing of the Executive Board from within available resources. The Executive Secretary shall manage and direct such staff and services and provide appropriate support and advice to the Executive Board (4/CMP.1, Annex I, Rule 34).
An official of the secretariat serves as secretary to the Executive Board:
An official of the secretariat designated by the Executive Secretary shall serve as secretary to the Executive Board (4/CMP.1, Annex I, Rule 35).
In support of the Executive Board, the secretariat is required to perform the following functions:
In addition to the functions specified in the CDM modalities and procedures and/or any subsequent decision by the COP/MOP, the secretariat shall, in accordance with these rules, and subject to the availability of resources:
- Receive, reproduce and distribute to members and alternate members the documents of a meeting;
- Receive and translate decisions into all six official languages of the United Nations and make publicly available the full texts of all decisions of the Executive Board;
- Assist the Executive Board in fulfilling tasks relating to the maintenance of files and the collection, processing and public availability of information;
- Perform all other work that the Executive Board may require (4/CMP.1, Annex I, Rule 36).
To this list, the COP/MOP has added the following services:
The Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties, ...
- Decides that the services provided by the secretariat to the Executive Board should include:
- Preparation of draft decisions for the Executive Board and draft recommendations for its panels and working groups, including the development of options and proposals;
- Publication and maintenance of a catalogue of the decisions of the Executive Board, recommendations of the panels and working groups, and preparatory work;
- Provision of advice and the procurement of external expert advice for the Executive Board and its panels and working groups;
- Provision of services and support functions to facilitate the work of the Executive Board and its committees, panels and working groups in accordance with the prevailing rules and regulations of the secretariat (7/CMP.1, paragraph 16).
The financial regulations of the UN apply to the performance of these functions by the secretariat:
The financial regulations of the United Nations and the financial procedures of the UNFCCC shall apply (4/CMP.1, Annex I, Rule 37).