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Michał Kurtyka, COP 24 President, Poland, welcomes Carolina Schmidt, COP 25 President, Chile, to the podium to take over the presidency.
Michał Kurtyka, COP 24 President, Poland, welcomes Carolina Schmidt, COP 25 President, Chile, to the podium to take over the presidency. 02/02/2019 Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth.
3 December 2019 18:04

Analysis: Which countries have sent the most delegates to COP25?

Robert McSweeney


Robert McSweeney

03.12.2019 | 6:04pm
COP25 MadridAnalysis: Which countries have sent the most delegates to COP25?

Thousands of negotiators, policymakers, researchers, journalists and campaigners have been descending on Madrid over recent days for a fortnight of UN climate negotiations at the 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25).

The shifting location of this year’s principal international climate talks has played havoc with travel plans. Brazil originally won the bid to host the talks in 2018, but withdrew its offer just two months later following the election of new president Jair Bolsonaro. 

Chile subsequently offered its capital Santiago as the host city, which was confirmed in March this year. However, less than five weeks before COP25 was to begin, the Chilean government pulled out as hosts following a period of civil unrest in the city.

At the last minute, Spain stepped in, saying it could host the event in Madrid. And at remarkable speed, the city has organised a fully fledged climate summit in just a few weeks.

So, how many delegates have travelled to these nomadic negotiations? And which countries have they come from? This Carbon Brief analysis reveals all.

Party representatives

According to the provisional list (pdf) published by the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), there is a grand total of 26,706 participants registered for COP25. 

This breaks down into: 13,643 people representing specific parties, 9,987 from observer organisations – such as scientists, business groups and various non-governmental organisations – and 3,076 journalists.

Overall, that amounts to around 4,000 more participants than at COP24 in Katowice last year. The number of party delegates is approximately the same as in Poland, but there are around 2,500 more delegates from observer organisations and almost twice as many media.

As always, these lists are provisional. They include the number of delegates that pre-registered for the talks. Of course, with the late change to a new venue more than 10,000km away, there may well be many delegates that could not rearrange their travel and accommodation plans at such short notice, and so will not be attending. However, the UNFCCC only publish a final list of participants at the end of the COP.

It is also worth noting that the provisional lists do not name all of the participants. Around 8,200 party delegates for COP25 are included by name, while around 9,400 delegates from observer organisations are named. The analysis presented here is undertaken on named party delegates only.

The country with the most delegates is, by some distance, Côte d’Ivoire with 348. The West African nation also brought the largest delegation to COP23 in Bonn in 2017 – with 492 participants – and the fourth largest to COP24 in Katowice in 2018, with 208.

Côte d’Ivoire’s delegation is more than 50 people larger than the second placed country, which is the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) with 293. The DRC also had the second largest number of delegates at COP24 (with 237) and the third largest at COP23 (340).

Making up the rest of the Top 5 this year is Spain (with 172 delegates), Brazil (168) and the Congo (165). The size of Spain’s delegation is almost four times as large as in recent years, no doubt reflecting their late entry as hosts. Indeed, while Chile still holds the presidency of the COP25, Spain is reported as “wielding more influence over the talks”.

Spain is not alone in bringing a much larger delegation this year. Chile’s 136-strong delegation is many times larger than in COP24 (31) and COP23 (26), while Bangladesh, Uganda and the Dominican Republic all have delegations around twice the size as at COP24.

Despite the United States’ recent decision to start the formal process of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, its delegation for COP25 (78 people) is much larger than at COP24 (48) and its largest since the Paris COP itself in 2015 (124).

In Europe, the UK’s (48 people) is similar in size to last year’s (52), despite the fact that the UK is set to host COP26 in Glasgow next November. Both France and Germany (124 and 102 people, respectively) have smaller delegations than last year (188 and 153, respectively). The European Union’s delegation (125) is around 40 people larger than at COP24.

The biggest drop in delegation size comes from Guinea, with a mere 159 people compared to a table-topping 406 at COP24. Unsurprisingly, Poland’s delegation (38) is also much smaller compared to last year when they were COP hosts (211). And there are two parties which do not have any delegates on the UNFCCC list this year – Bolivia and San Marino.

The map and chart below present the delegation sizes across all the countries represented at COP25. The darker the shading, the more delegates that country has brought along. Mouse over the countries to see the number of delegates and the population size.

The full list of party delegation sizes and their gender balances can also be found here. The UNFCCC list provides the delegate names. 

[The analysis is based on named participants only, which account for 8,169 people out of a total of 13,643 (the UNFCCC does not provide details of some “party overflow” delegates). It is also worth noting that some countries allocate some of their party badges to NGOs, which can artificially inflate the size of their official delegation.]

Gender balance

The UNFCCC’s list provides the name and title of each registered participant. Therefore, it is possible to work out the balance of men to women that each country has sent to Madrid. (It should be noted that the gender balances presented here are based on the titles designated by UNFCCC and not by Carbon Brief.)

On average, party delegations at COP25 are divided 60% male to 40% female, which is a slightly more equal split than at COP23 in Bonn (62%-38%) and at COP24 in Katowice (63-37%).

There are 10 countries that have delegations with a 50-50 split, which are Spain (172 delegates in total), Mozambique (48), Poland (38), the Seychelles (34), Belize (28), Tuvalu (18), Armenia (12), the Bahamas (10), Cuba (8) and Dominica (4). 

Two countries have all-female delegations – Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (six delegates) and Syria (one). In comparison, the delegations of seven countries are all-male for COP25 – Yemen (17 delegates), Pakistan (16), Mauritius (8), Tajikistan (5), Turkmenistan (4) Eritrea (3) and Libya (2). Pakistan, Tajikistan, Eritrea and Libya were among the eight all-male delegations at COP24 as well.

Update: The final delegation list, published after the COP by the UNFCCC, shows that Pakistan brought a delegation of 13 men and one woman, so their final delegation was not entirely male. This is an example of the differences that arise between the provisional and final lists. (The final delegations of Yemen (13 delegates), Mauritius (4), Tajikistan (4), Turkmenistan (4) Eritrea (3) and Libya (5) were all male.)

Tableau by Tom Prater for Carbon Brief

Updated on 06/01/2020 to note the difference in the gender balance between the provisional and final delegate lists.

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