It’s going to be a packed hall at The Bella Center for the next few days. The venue for the United Nations' climate conference, which has a capacity of 15,000, saw 14,400 people make their way in on Friday, leading the UN — which took over the place on December 7 — to impose entry restrictions on Saturday.
“The level of access is progressively moving towards the limit,” said a special announ-cement made by the UN.
Fearing problems, the UN is also trying to restrict the number of registrations, which had swelled from 30,123 on December 7 to 35,731 by December 11. Of these, 20,000 are representatives of non-governmental organisations from across the world. About 1,500 of them are from India.
Another UN announcement said that, from Tuesday, those with NGO badges would have to take an additional card according to the entry quota for each organisation.
“Online registrations have been stopped as we expect a huge rush of delegates and parties next week, when the heads of state arrive,” said a UN security official, who wished to remain unnamed, as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
Yvo De Boer, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change, the secretariat for the conference, expected 150 heads of state to arrive by December 16.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is arriving on the evening of December 17, the day US President Barack Obama will also reach the Bella Center.
“It's not like having 15,000 people visiting for a couple of days. We've tried that with, for example, the EU summit in 2002 or the UN Social Summit in 1998. It's not having heads of state from around the world visiting, either. The big practical challenge presented by this summit is that it lasts, not three or four days, but twelve. On top of which it's 24 hours a day,” said Arne Bang Mikkelsen, Chief Executive Officer of the Bella Center, on its website.
However, those who are not able to gain entry are determined to make their presence felt nevertheless. “We will be here every day,” said Kim Carstensen, lead of the World Wildlife Fund global climate initiative. “If not inside, we will be outside, to show the leaders what climate change means to billions of people outside.”