On 7 December 2015, during the two-week landmark Paris Climate Conference (“COP21”) http://cop21.iccwbo.org/, the ICC International Court of Arbitration came together with the International Bar Association, the Permanent Court of Arbitration and the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce for a joint conference on COP21 Climate Change Related Disputes. The event was hosted by ICC Paris. The objective was to provide an open forum to discuss the existing use of international arbitration and ADR mechanisms to resolve climate change-related disputes and explore the further role of arbitration and ADR to help implement and enforce emerging international sustainability principles, standards, commitments and obligations, resolve disputes and maintain individual, national and international climate change targets and objectives.

I would like to express ICC’s sincere thanks to the International Bar Association, the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce and the Permanent Court of Arbitration for working with us to develop this important initiative. And in particular I want to thank Wendy Miles QC, one of the Vice Presidents of the ICC court who has played a central role in the development of the event programme and its subsequent publication.

I would like to say a few words about why this initiative is so important. The event itself took place with just five days left in the Paris climate talks. At the time it was clear that COP21 would produce a highly novel form of international engagement, comprising both national and international measures, together with commitments from non-state actors, including businesses and local governments.

One of the greatest challenges that policy makers will face will be to persuade stakeholders that this new architecture will be binding and enforceable beyond COP21. This so-called “enforcement gap” is an issue likely to dominate the debate following the conclusion of the COP21 negotiations. Indeed, it was a theme that featured prominently in discussions at the official COP21 business and industry day, BINGO, during COP21, with a number of major international firms voicing concern about potential competitive distortions under a COP21 deal.

There are currently questions as to whether this enforcement problem can be addressed by national or international courts. In this context, it is surprising that relatively little attention has been paid to the role arbitration might play in addressing this challenge. After all, international arbitration has been used for over 100 years to resolve some of the most important disputes of our time in environmental, social and economic terms.

I am therefore delighted that ICC was able to host this event in Paris at the midpoint of COP21 to look at the possible utility of arbitration and ADR in resolving climate change-related disputes, and in building confidence in a new global climate agreement and publish this book of lectures and papers.

ICC is designated by the United Nations ("UN") as the business focal point to the UNFCCC talks, and we stand ready to work with businesses and governments in the months and years ahead to ensure that international arbitration can fully support global effort to meet climate challenges. I hope that the event itself (and this subsequent publication) map out an agenda that we can take forward to maximize the potential arbitration possibilities in meeting this defining challenge of our time.