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COP26 international climate change conference

The United Nations COP26 Climate Change Conference was one of the biggest international diplomacy events the UK has ever hosted. The twelve-day conference took place in Glasgow from 31 October to 13 November 2021.

World leaders – alongside tens of thousands of negotiators, government representatives, businesses and citizens – attended the conference for talks on tackling the climate change emergency. The landmark conference positioned global climate action closer to a ‘Net Zero by 2050’ trajectory, with increased commitments and accelerated action plans agreed across the range of climate mitigation and adaptation measures.

Teams from across FCDO Services were actively involved with the event, providing logistical and delegate support, technical security and translation services.

Our contribution to the logistical success of COP26 has increased organisational appetite to be more sustainable and set a pathway to net zero.

Support for delegates

Our staff joined teams from various departments, supporting the delegates at the conference. The event included a two-day Leaders Summit attended by 120 world leaders. Official VIPs were assigned a dedicated support officer to act as logistical liaison.

Behind the scenes, a team of logistical support officers juggled arrival and departure details, airport landing slots, charter flights, visa requirements and transport arrangements.

Delegations were very grateful for the support they received. For our staff, it was a brilliant opportunity to engage with high profile leaders and their teams. Seeing and hearing emotive speeches on the climate emergency from world leaders and celebrity attendees will be a life-long memory for them. One colleague commented, “The experience taught me a lot about climate change and the importance of making a difference now.”

Translation and interpreting services

A number of government partners used FCDO Services’ Translation and Interpreting service to translate documents for the event.

Texts covered issues including sustainable land use, eco-friendly farming and de-carbonising road transport. The translations were formatted as press releases, briefings and preparatory documents.

The team translated ‘COP26 Explained’ for the Cabinet Office – a foundation document setting out the significance and objectives of the conference.

The document was translated into the five United Nation languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, Russian and Spanish. Managing changes and amendments across multi-language documents was crucial to the success of the project.

We were delighted with the work delivered by the translation team. Working hand in glove with them meant we were able to provide many key documents in the UN working languages, which contributed greatly to the success of our COP26 lobbying and engagement.”
Head of International Engagement – Overseas Network, Africa, Regional and UN / multilateral influencers, Cabinet Office

IT infrastructure feasibility study of the Scottish Event Centre (SEC)

Given the scale of the event, the FCDO’s Major Events Protocol Team commissioned FCDO Services’ Technical Security experts to undertake an IT infrastructure feasibility study of the 40-acre campus.

Our experts documented and assessed the chassis, capacity, cabling, power, earthing, lighting, fire suppression and security of over 40 IT cabinets. In addition, they carried out electronic testing on more than 750 cables, totalling 141 kilometres of cable.

We produced a 482-page report identifying nearly 800 remedial work actions and recommendations. We were able to react quickly to the brief and work in an agile way to complete the project around ongoing use of the venue. Turning the work around to a tight schedule enabled the event contractor to proceed with preparatory work at speed.


Implementing technical security services at key international meetings such as COP26 is part and parcel of the work of the UK National Authority for Counter-Eavesdropping (UK NACE). In 2021, the group was extensively involved in high profile G7 meetings held under the UK G7 Presidency.

In the run up to COP26, the implementation team worked under considerable time pressures to complete all pre-conference activities. Technical experts, such as the Radio Countermeasures (RCM) team, ensured resilient, secure venues for HMG functions held during COP26 and other aspects of the programme.

The team worked alongside the police and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to assess the venues and deliver technical services, taking into account COVID-19 constraints.

The success of such risk mitigation services is ultimately judged by threats avoided. UK NACE’s technically skilled, behind-the-scenes work is rarely publicised, but the team are consummate professionals and an exemplar of FCDO Services’ delivery.

The RCM Team were nominated for a Team of the Year Award at the Cabinet Office-led Government Security Awards 2022.