Article / 28 Apr, 2017
The Drama, Determination and Achievements of the World’s Climate Change Story Chronicled in New Exhibition

(Bonn, 28 April 2017) - The highs and the lows, the people and the personalities and the extraordinary achievements of more than two decades of international climate diplomacy are at the centre of a new and unique exhibition which opened today in Bonn.

Celebrating the effort of millions of government delegates, scientists, activists and United Nations staff, the new exhibition takes a visitor through the early days of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to what was once termed, the “impossible dream”—the Paris Climate Change Agreement of 2015.

The exhibit, which has been six months in the making, unveils rarely seen photos and archived video footage to artefacts like the famous, “leaf-shaped’ green gavel used by French Foreign Minister Fabius to close the historic Paris conference, was today named the Richard Kinley Gallery.

Deputy Executive Secretary of UNFCCC Richard Kinley (second on the left)

Mr Kinley, a Canadian diplomat is the outgoing Deputy Executive Secretary of UNFCCC. He has served all five heads of the organization and contributed his unique skill and experience to securing the Paris Agreement which has put the world on a path towards low carbon and greater resilience to climate change.

Patricia Espinosa, the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, said today:

“Last year, the UNFCCC secretariat celebrated the 20th anniversary of its establishment in Bonn. Along with the UN climate change process, this organization and its staff have developed over the years to the top performing organization is today – the organization without which the Paris Agreement would not have been possible.”

“This Exhibition pays tribute to the many, many men and woman—young and old--who have dedicated their lives to one of the most pressing challenges the modern world has ever faced: namely climate change”.

“I am delighted that it has been named in celebration of the achievements of Richard Kinley, an individual who has selflessly served this UN process, bringing craft and creativity, humour and humbleness and above all personal commitment to this amazing journey that has brought the world to a new and optimistic juncture," she said.

The new Exhibition comes in advance of the UN climate conference 2017, to be hosted in Bonn under the Presidency of the small island developing state of Fiji, where governments will take forward their actions under the Paris Agreement while advancing the ground rules critical for ever more confidence-building between nations.

“This exhibit should remind each and everyone of us of the need for similar dedication and inspiration as we move forward. I am sure that from today and over the coming years and decades we will be able to contribute ever more artefacts and memorabilia of success as nations, with the UN’s support, write new chapters of achievement under the shared vision of the Paris Agreement," said Ms Espinosa.

Ms Espinosa was flanked by three of the four former UNFCCC Executive Secretaries: Michael Zammit Cutajar; Yvo de Boer and Christiana Figueres—Joke Waller-Hunter passed away in 2005.

The new gallery has been made possible by support from the Princess of Asturia’s Awards, where the UNFCCC won a prestigious prize in 2016 for International Cooperation, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany.

The UNFCCC, headquartered in Bonn, emerged from the Rio Earth Summit of 1992. The exhibit showcases early documents submitted to the UN General Assembly of 1988 by the then Foreign Minister of Malta, Dr Vincent Tabone, which paved the way towards a climate convention.

The Exhibit is housed in the UN premises in Bonn and as such is not open to the public. But it will be available to all delegates attending many of the UN conference in the Rhine-side city while also a highlight of the many German and international visitors’ groups who come to the UN’s premises under its theme—Shaping a Sustainable Future.

The Richard Kinley Gallery was established by a team at the UNFCCC with support from the Cologne-based company Yellow Design and climate historians and curators Dr Joanna Depledge, a lecturer at the University of Cambridge and climate change expert and Dr Jessica Bushey, an archives expert who also teaches at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

Dr Jessica Bushey (left) and Dr Joanna Depledge (right)

The city of Bonn was represented by Deputy Mayor Reinhard Limbach, and the German Foreign Office by its Special Ambassador to the UN in Bonn, Ingrid Jung.

Anyone who has participated in the UN climate change process and has memorabilia in the form of photographs is invited to post them on social media with the hashtag #RKGallery. The most interesting entries will be shared on the UNFCCC social media outlets.

This article is the latest in our series #Art4Climate, a joint initiative by the UNFCCC secretariat and Julie’s Bicycle on the work of artists who make the issue of climate change more accessible and understandable by featuring it in their work. It was inspired by a session at the Salzburg Global Seminar in early 2017.

#Art4Climate is a joint initiative by the UNFCCC and Julie’s Bicycle to spot and propose super recent and new works in this broad field, but we also want to hear from you! Please send any proposals for showcasing to newsroom@unfccc.int or Chiara@juliesbicycle.com.

Please amplify our web posts with Twitter hashtag #Art4Climate and #COP23!