Accreditation – what went wrong and right?

So you have seen and heard on TV about the chaos of people trying to get into to COP15, but really what are the issues?


  1. Registration or Accreditation is managed by the UNFCCC Secretariat directly. The Danish Government nor the Bella center nor MCI were involved in this process
  2. The event was planned for between 12000 to 15000 people. 46000 people were accredited
  3. Yvo De Boer – head of the UNFCC, wanted an event that was really inclusive. He wanted to really let civil society play an important part in the meeting and let the NGOs have active participation and influence the political decision makers.
  4. Their are heads of state from 120 plus countries. Security is the key priority

    Friends of Earth protest inside Bella

What went wrong?

  1. “Size 6 boots – size 12 feet”. 45000 people accredited but the legal and safe limit of the Bella Center was 15000 people. Entrance restrictions had to be put in place for safety and security reasons.
  2. The accreditation strategy went wrong. Clearer guidance and control on the amount of people accredited needs to be established.
  3. Logistics: You need enough registration desks and staff to receive the people. Christian Kjaer, the CEO of EWEA, who had waited in line for 7 hours, commented; “I have twice as many registration desks and people for my conference with 4000 people”
  4. Logistics: You need good IT. On an event of this profile, you cannot have IT systems that crash and fail. On the first few days, the registration staff were using paper lists, as the databases were not updated
  5. I would say this – but the UNFCCC should have outsourced the work to a PCO – professional congress organiser. Someone (like MCI) used to working with large events. They have such a huge content task at hand they should have limited their risk and focused on the content.

What went right?

  1. Take responsibility. Yvo de Boer head of the UNFCCC, took 100% responsibility.

    DE BOER... we can't fit a size 12 feet into a size six shoes

    Asking who is to blame in a press conference – he responded “ME”.  You can see his honest and direct reply on BBC

  2. React. The Danish govt have set up an alternative venue for the NGOs who cannot enter.
  3. Yvo de Boer,  had the courage to try something new and work towards including all areas of civil society in the meeting. This has created some amazing scenes inside the Bella Center. Sit ins, hecklers, activists on stage in the plenary. See his explanation and request for assistance to the NGOs who were organizing a sit in – inside Bella Center. For me this is excellent statesmanship and you can see what this guys has to deal with, and the way some people react. At the same time you can understand their frustrations – as many people paid out a lot in hotels, flights etc to be here.

We have technical passes and even we had to wait in line for 3 hours on the first day. Together with the window cleaners, engineers, waiters and many other staff we could not get in to work.

1 Comment

  1. […] Guy's experiences at COP 15 you can read his blogs here about their engagement with BS8901 and here about the problems they faced with accreditation.Huge congratulations to Guy and his team on their […]

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