In a pioneering initiative COP18/CMP8 Doha will be the first COP conference to be Paper Smart. While the negotiations and meetings that take place during these annual conferences are critical to developing climate change policy, an unfortunate side-effect is the amount of documents that often need to be printed and circulated among delegates.

To make COP18/CMP8 Doha as green as possible, the Paper Smart initiative will be used. The scheme, which is already being used in the New York headquarters of the UN, has until now never been transported to a COP meeting. It is part of a directive by Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, to make the UN a paperless organisation by 2015. By making the COP18/CMP8 paper smart rather than paper less, delegates can manage their own use of paper resources by printing only the documents that they need.

At the conference in Doha, digital copies of all UN material will be made available to delegates. A Paper Smart (Integrated Sustainable PaperSmart Services) computer station will be set up in the Qatar National Convention Centre to offer IT support and a print-on-demand service to delegates. The scheme is described as more of a war on waste than a war on paper use.

An important aspect of the project is that in Doha’s drive to make COP18/CMP8 as inclusive and transparent as possible, access to digital copies of the public documents will be made available to NGOs and members of the press. At previous COP conferences about 5 million sheets of paper are used but COP18/CMP8 wants to reduce this to 3 million.

Another welcome part of the initiative is that it has created 70 jobs. Each of the Paper Smart stations, which will be positioned around the conference centre, will be manned by a team who can help delegates access the service. Technology such as apps for smartphones and tablet computers is also being used to ensure that COP18/CMP8 is as environmentally friendly as possible. The app will be available to all conference participants so that they have free and easy access to all the documents and information they need. The section of the organising committee in charge of the app design said that it is an effective method to reduce the amount of paper used in conferences.

The Organising Committee’s Media Team has already used memory sticks in its communication with media outlets, and a press pack with key information will be made available on memory sticks for members of the media when they arrive.

The organisers believe that their commitment to reducing paper waste is a step in the right direction and one that will help COP18/CMP8 Doha set the standard for green negotiations.

For more information, visit COP18.