During our first guided visit to the COP 16 plennary sessions held in the Moon Palace, Madeleen Helmer, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Climate Centre, shared with our delegation of youth delegates an important poin: while negotiations are often a very slow process and may not lead to great global decisions, meeting together as a global society is much more than pure decision malking. It is about coming together as one community discussing an issue that affects of all.
Through dialogue, negotiators learn from each other and go back to their countries with a broadened perspective about the developments of climate change at a global level. They better understand the impacts of their actions on the global community, recognizing that climate change affects different countries in different ways. It also provides the opportunity for those struggling to deal with climate change to come together and compare their approaches to solving common issues. People with common goals can plan for the future with partnerships strengthened by the opportunity for dialogue provided by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Beyond the negotiators, observers also strengthen their networks through the UNFCC sessions, and ensure their voices are heard loud and clear and their demands taken into consideration. Organizations share ideas, resources and energy. Through coming together in these meetings, people working separately see that their actions fit within a global movement larger then themselves; people are rejuvenated by each others’ energy and hope.
Being at the UNFCCC conference, has been both disappointing and exciting. Disappointing because it is unlikely that COP16 will end with global decisions strong enough to prepare for climate change. Exciting because of the momentum of organizations, individuals, and some countries to work together to combat climate change and adapt to inevitable changes that it will bring.
As a youth, while I am definitely concerned about my future in this world, this conference has increased my confidence that there is already a strong, growing network of people working towards positive change – people are not waiting for a global decision.
Editor’s note: Article by Sarah St. John, Canadian Red Cross Society representing the IFRC at the COP16 climate negotiations in Cancun, Mexico.