COP18 delegates' blog
The COP18 youth delegates used this blog to record their experiences. Read on to find out what it is like to be a WAGGGS delegate at a UN Climate Conference!
This page is written and maintained by youth delegates. It is not necessarily the view nor the official communication of WAGGGS.
The COP 18 Experience...Reflections on their COP 18 experience from delegates’ post-COP Action Plans.
New ideas/topics that I have learnt about:
“Unfortunately, I have learned that there are so many conflicts and obstacles in the way of coming up with a fair and legally binding agreement that every country can accept.
I have also realised the importance of education and public awareness when dealing with these questions. It is vital that everyone, everywhere will have access to good information and knowledge about climate change to be able to both influence their own governments, but also understand what people can do themselves to contribute to a sustainable future in their community and in the world.
I have received many new ideas and suggestions on how to do both simple and more advance environmental projects at home, from my fellow girls guides at COP. I have also received more information and material from other youth organisations and NGOs, to bring u in our organization and talk about as a natural part when planning for our future projects.”
“I have been impressed by the amount of WAGGGS members who are educationally interested in climate change and how they are getting involved in what WAGGGS are doing.”
“Even small things can make a difference; even a simple word inserted into a sentence [in a policy document] is the difference between outcomes.”
“The force that social media plays in engaging, mobilizing and informing at events/movements like this. These channels can be used to build momentum, follow and share difficult and controversial truths.”
One thing that has inspired me:
“The enthusiasm and knowledge that all the other youth delegates have, at young ages they know so much and know what needs to be done to make a difference and have the passion, they are not just the leaders of tomorrow but the leaders of today and are expressing that well.”
“I think that this experience changed my life, increased my knowledge, and inspired me a lot.”
|Wednesday 5 December|
The importance of the voice of the youth
We are keeping busy here at the conference - amongst other with a project "invented" by the New Zealand Youth Delegation. As we really like it and think there is some WAGGGS spirit in it, we have joined the working group.
Due to the fact that this year the conference is in Qatar, which for many people around the world is an expensive country to both get to and live in, it has meant that there are many youth delegations as well as individual youth delegates that haven’t managed to get to the conference physically.
It is really important that the voice of youth is at the conference, as this is the main chance we have of making a difference on a global level by influencing the decisions made that go back to each nation to implement climate related actions. This year a new project has been launched called ‘Connected Voices’, this means that those voices who can’t be at the conference, can still be represented here.
A country that is not represented will be linked with a country or delegation that is attending the conference; they will then take the messages to the conference to be expressed.
The participating delegations can then feedback information to the unrepresented country.
As well as this it means that youth as a group can build links with each other and grow stronger as a constituency.
Before the conference there was an engagement sheet that unrepresented countries filled in about what they are standing for the most, they then took a picture of themselves with the Connect Voices logo which is brought to the conference.
To express the whole project at the conference there was an action based around this where we presented the flags of countries represented vs. the flags of countries unrepresented. We also held up quotes from those unrepresented so their voice was seen. We hope that this will be a project that will continue for years to come.
Final thoughts from Cecilia
It's really difficult to summarize the past week to something that makes sense. I'm still digesting all the impressions. At least I can say that this has been one of the most exciting weeks I have ever experienced. For the first time in my life, I feel like I have done something that might have an impact on many people's life around the world.
I've had a lot of fun together with all the WAGGGS girls and the rest of the youth participants at the conference, even if I've been working day and night since I arrived. I feel happy to know that there are many young people, raising their voice to make sure that the leaders of the world understand the impact of their decisions. It gives me hope. I wish Leah, Maria, Harriet, Charlene, Rachel and Bron good luck during the last week! Make sure that all leaders know that girl guides and girl scouts are part of the solution!
/Leah, UK and Cecilia, Sweden
|Tuesday 4 December|
An international atmosphere and a Lebanese popstar
Today the highlevel people started arriving, so all of the sudden you could be cut of in your walk, because some Arabian prince or something like that came by and security people therefore blocked everybody else.
A key part of the conference is that it is an internationally stage for negotiators, party members, NGO’s as well as press, this means that at all stages of the conference various cultures and lifestyles need to be taken into account.
The most common difference that there is between countries, is language. This is key, as it is important that everyone, who is involved needs to understand, what it going on throughout. To tackle this in almost all meeting and talks there are headsets available, so that you can hear a translation. Seen as we are in an Arabic country, as well all the signs here are both in English and Arabic, so that as many people can read them as possible.
It is important that during long hard days at the conference everyone has enough energy, food can be different around the world and also what people are used to, this is why in the restaurants at the conference centre there is a wide choice of food from different regions stretching from Asian to Italian food so there is plenty of choice for all.
Momentum for Change
To tell you the truth, the day had been quite bad for all of us. Meeting with our national delegations did not leave much hope for a solution and the mindset of the COP so far seems to be that this is a transitional COP and no "real" agreement need to be made. This is why, we were happy to end the day at a high.
Momentum for Change was an event by UNFCCC , giving out prizes to nine projects, where sustainable development were key. There were for example a project with electrical busses in Sri Lanka, solar powered lamps given to women in Uganda and development of a better system for making bricks in Peru. It was very inspiring to see these stories and to know that it is not all about politicians and a text. Real people are affected by climate change - and real people make a difference.
It all ended with a concert with a Lebanese popstar. The local youth seem to enjoy it, but for the rest of us, we must admit that it was a bit bizar, but also a welcoming peak into the Arabic world.
Follow the other WAGGGS delegation as well
WHAT? Another WAGGGS delegation? Girl Guides and Girl Scouts are everywhere!
Yes, we are!
While we are here at COP, another WAGGGS delegation is at the Global Youth Forum in Bali. We hope that they are having as good a time, as we are - and we are sure that they work just as hard as us.
Follow their blog. It's guarenteed to be nice!
/Leah, UK and Maria, Denmark
|Monday 3 December|
Robin Hood? At COP18?
Rachel is orginally a Girl Guide from Lebanon, but as she now lives in Qatar, she has joined our delegation for the second week of COP18.
A good start
As I got into the bus heading to QNCC on my first day at COP18, I heard the most motivating comment for a start of day: "You are here with the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, well ladies you are doing a great work, you are all around the place."
To that, I congratulate my sister guides on their relentless efforts during the past week and the difference they had done at COP on behalf of 10 million girls worldwide.
Robin Hood Tax: A global solution
As part of the Finance working group, today I participated in an action on the socalled Robin Hood Tax.
Let me explain: 12 European countries have agreed to apply a new tax on financial transactions. The purpose of our action was to encourage the parties at the conference to vote to put 25% of those money into the Green Climate Fund, which helps developing countries face climate change challenges.
As such, it would be taking from the rich and giving to the poor, hence the slogan:
ROBIN HOOD TAX: A GLOBAL SOLUTION
|Monday 3 December|
Top 5 persons of week 2
Week 2 at the conference has started. Here we try to tell you a little bit about the persons, who might be central in this week of negotiations.
H.E. Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah
As deputy prime minister of Qatar, this man is president of the COP. When nobody comes to the negotiation table with ambition, it is sort of a tradition that the host country does this. He is therefore very important and it will be interesting to see, how he will act during the second week. In the first week, he was very quiet and even cancelled some press conferences, which made people wonder if he really wanted a deal, or was more concerned with the emir coming.
According to Wikipedia Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah is married with six children. His interests are reading, fishing and radio communications.
China is often negotiating side by side with the G77 (the poorest countries). In general China with its huge workforce and economic power, is very powerful in negotiations like this one in COP.
Su Wei is the lead negotiator for China and as such he is influencing a big part of the negotiations. China does not want to cut emissions, as this would potentially stop their economic development.
USA as a super power has a lot of influence at COP. If they go one way, it is quite possible that for example the EU follows. Though Obama has been clearer in his rhetoric about climate change and maybe will be setting in efforts to cut emission, USA is still the largest pollutor in the world.
Jonathan Pershing is the lead negotiator for the USA and could very well be the one to make the first step in some areas. We must however not forget that the country is going through an economic crisis, which might mean that they are not willing to give more money than absolutely necessary.
From Algeria, but representing G77 (the poorest countries) the focus on Abdelhakim will definitely be on getting money. It can be called ‘compensation’, ‘means of implementation’ and lots of other thing. This is by many seen as absolutely fair, as it is the world’s poorest, who are suffering from climate changes, which are happening because of the lifestyle of the world’s riches.
So far different funds have been made (such as the adaptation fund and the green climate fund), but not filled.
Connie Hedegaard is EU commissionaire for Climate Action. During COP18 she will ensure that EU follows an ambitious climate policy.
She will be amongst those pushing for ambition, high emission targets and maybe even against fossil fuels (this is not a direct EU policy, but she’s expressed it on her twitter account).
Other fun facts about Connie is that she is Danish and a previous Girl Guide. A strong women, previous Girl Guide and ambitious – we like her!
Which of these top 5 are you? Take the test!
|Sunday 2 December|
As the first week of COP ends, as big part of the delegation is returning to their home, leaving only Leah, Harriet, Bron and Maria behind. Fortunately these will be joined by Charlene from Liberia, who could not come ealier due to problems with Visa.
But for now, it's time for some final thoughts from some of the delegates:
Lizette, UK - I am part of the solution
Everything thing I've done, since filling in the application form to send off to WAGGGS, has been an achievement for me in my eyes.
I've sung live (well shouted to a campfire tune), seen a negotiation in action, been retweeted numerous times, taken part in moving 'actions' highlighting unrepresented youth and I've spoken with one voice for, and on behalf off 10 million girls.
I would sum up this week with a phrase from my 'youth' in the nineties: Girl Power. We have worked tirelessly and run around like crazy with one aim in mind - to raise awareness of the power that girls and young women have as agents of change. I am part of the solution and you are too.
Michelle, Lebanon - Don't give up
Now it is the hard part!
Goodbye! Probably I won’t see you again, but this fact will never change the way I think or feel for “WAGGGS delegation in COP 18” it is respect and dedication that made this experience a great success story. 10 days full of training, questionnaires, meetings, research, negotiations and actions that changed my life forever.
I won’t forget Mrs. Christiana Figueres (UNFCCC) saying: “youth don’t give up”. It is now the time for us as youth all around the world to say: we will not accept Climate change affecting our lives and letting it happen with no actions. Because our job as youth to make this planet a better place for us and for the generations that will come.
We are the youth; we are the future, make a change now before it is too late.
Chathushka, Sri Lanka - So much to take home
Honestly, coming to Qatar and being part of the WAGGGS delegation has been the most amazing experience in my life. I left home with just 15 Kg in my luggage, but now there's so much more to take back home, in my heart. It's very rare that someone would get opportunity to speak up on a platform at an internationally acclaimed event. And I just did it! Being only 19 I won the chance to be part of a panel discussion at a UN conference! Now, I can a feel a change in me-in an extremely positive sense obviously.
I've made amazing new friends at COY8 (Conference of Youth) and I've also been privileged enough to have been able to sit down with the most awesome people at debrief every evening. This exposure has been so great. I don't think I can even put it down in words. And I'm not just saying it, every word I type weighs so much with meaning! In conclusion, on a personal note I must say that at the end of all this, I saw a completely different side to life.
|Thursday 29 November|
Yet another busy day for the WAGGGS delegates
Getting in on the Action!
YoFuGe (Young and Future Generations) Day at COP 18 has been a great way to express our voices as the WAGGGS delegation, raising awareness of key issues that are important to members all over the world with our ‘Actions’.
If we decide to organise an ‘Action’ during the conference, it means that the organisers of this event should get a preapproval of the location, timing, the group organising it, the number of people involved in this action, what it stands for and finally how much noise we will create. All this information is then passed for approval from the UN security before any event can take place.
Today WAGGGS supported the YOUNGO article 6 (climate change education) working group, which Cecila, Bronwyn and Harriet are part of, in preparing their action today. It was based on the game Rock, Paper, Scissors. Everyone started out at level 1 (Negotiator) and had to work their way up to level 7 (Article 6 Champion), once you won your match against someone the same level as you, you then moved up the ladder. We played this game several times whilst the working group spoke about the key points they wanted to highlight to negotiators.
WAGGGS also had the side event today, which was teaching our “action” to other youth and anyone who would listen so that people could come and sing along when we did the action later on. First we had a quick introduction for the WAGGGS delegation in COP 18 and second explaining our main reasons for attending this event. Everyone was happy, cheery and proud to transmit Education with a NON FORMAL way, Harriet even cried as she was moved by our performance.
When the ‘Action’ took place Michelle, Cecila and Maria ended up having media interviews to TV crews from China and Qatar whilst we all danced in the background. In the interviews they spoke about non formal education and the importance to raise awareness on climate change to youth around the world.
Speaking with the old and wise
It sounds very difficult and high-level, but the Intergenerational Inquiry was actually a great chance for youth to speak to three amazing women. First in the panel was Mary Robinson, who is the former primeminister in Ireland and now very involved with rights in the perspective of climate chance. Next was Ambassador to the UN Dessima from Grenada – a vibrant women. Then we found the ever present and youth-friendly Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary to the UNFCCC. Most people back home might not know her, but here at COP, she is a local celebrity.
Last – but definitely not least – Maria from WAGGGS was moderator of this event.
“It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed every moment, but if you ask me now, what everybody said, I’m not sure I could repeat it.”
We all liked that Maria got to show the WAGGGS scarf – and we even got a photo with Christiana, Maria and Nanook.
We all learned to never give up even when we know that the road is hard, long and challenging because we are young and this is our future it is our concern.
So if you are reading this right now, sitting at your home far away, you can make a change. You just have to believe in yourself and act.
/Michelle, Lebanon & Maria, Denmark
|Wednesday 28 November|
Back to school for WAGGGS
We learn a little more each day about the conference and thought we would shared some things we have learnt with you.
WAGGGS Guide to COP badges
To get into the conference you need to have an official pass which needs to be applied for in advance. Not all passes are the same and it can get confusing, but here is a WAGGGS delegate 'Guide to COP Badge'.
Light Orange/Yellow- these belong to 'non-governmental organisations' (NGOs) - which includes us as young people. This means we are not involved in making decisions during the negotiations but we can watch (quietly!). NGOs also includes charities and groups e.g. businesses, gender and trade unions, that have an interest in climate change.
Pink - people with these badges are part of a countries negotiation group known as a 'party' in COP language. These are the people can make decisions on key issues relating to climate change. As a delegation it is our mission to find these people and lobby them on key issues such as non- formal education and gender to make sure the are aware of the views of you, our members.
Orange - These belong to the press, a lot of important decisions are made at the conference that affect people all over the world so its important that everyone is kept up to date.
Green - As negotiators can't know everything they rely on experts, who are not attending as a member of a NGO or Country delegation, to provide background knowledge in specific areas of climate change.
Blue & Grey - As this is such a huge conference they need large team of people to make sure it runs smoothly from the guy who empties the bins to the technical team who set up all the TV screens and systems.
Youngo is aimed at those involved youth NGOs similar to WAGGGS. It is an open platform for youth from all over the world to take part in so that young people have a voice at the conference.
We come together every morning at COP to share ideas, provide updates and discuss actions, this is called a 'spokescouncil'. At this meeting each group selects a spokesperson to represent them, the 'spokes' sit a circle as if they are the wheel of a bike - which is why they are called 'spokes'.Only the 'spoke' is allowed to speak on behalf of the group, but they can speak to the rest of the team to ask our thoughts and opinions.
This morning Cecila was our 'spoke' for WAGGGS and raised an important question about a discussion the council had about developing a common messaging theme to be used by youth, when using hashtags, to create a bigger impact. It was a very interesting session and the people in charge of meeting made sure everyones voice was heard just like the chairperson in a real negotiation.
/Liz, UK, Leah, UK and Lizzy, Zambia
Extraordinary blog by World Board Member Shaleeka Abeygunasekera
Gender day at COP18 has been an interesting one! I’ve heard statements ranging from “demystifying the science for women” to “why would WAGGGS be interested in climate change?” Clearly, education on climate change has a long way to go.
For starters, everyone, and I mean everyone, needs to understand two things: (1) climate change is real, its serious, and its happening to us now; and (2) there is no plan-et B. For over 100 years WAGGGS has helped turn out leaders who understand they have a moral obligation to society. But here’s the dilemma – what is the point in developing responsible citizens of society if there isn’t a society for them to be responsible in
Last week, the World Bank and UNEP released two reports. The first made it very clear what our planet would look like if we just continue to carry on as we are. Extreme heat waves, declining global food stocks, sea level rises, destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems, increased natural disasters will all be experienced by millions unless countries cut back on CO2 emissions dramatically.
The UNEP report which followed then showed that rather than lowering emissions, countries were actually increasing them. Not a pretty picture, and governments are still debating the issue, although they know exactly what has to be done! The only way that governments can be persuaded to change their minds and see beyond petty politics is if more and more youth speak out and demand their basic human rights of having a planet to live on.
Add to that gender discrimination and violence against girls and women. Both of these are a fact, and here’s what’s interesting – climate change makes both discrimination and violence worse. In the 2004 tsunami for example, about 80% of the population killed were girls and young women. A study by the London School of Economics and Political Science also said that in the event of a natural disaster, boys were more likely to be rescued than girls. So, who’s still wondering what WAGGGS (which is the world’s largest voluntary organisation for girls and young women globally) is doing at COP18?
The WAGGGS delegation at COP18 comprise of ten enthusiastic and confident young women from each of WAGGGS’ five regions, who are not afraid to stand up for what they believe in and speak out on behalf of the 7 billion people inhabiting the planet. Georgia O'Keeffe once said, “Where I was born and where and how I have lived is unimportant. It is what I have done with where I have been that should be of interest.”
WAGGGS came to Doha to make a difference. Whatever your beliefs about Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting, and irrespective of whether you are one of the 10 million WAGGGS’ members or not, know that these ten amazing young women are working tirelessly on your behalf to save your world for you - give them your thanks, your encouragement, and your support for the week ahead.
|Tuesday 27 November|
Day in the life of a WAGGGS delegate
In our blog so far we shared our hopes and dreams as youth, young women and as the voice of our members. Today we are sharing the reality of our time at the conference.
Our days start pretty early, my alarm goes off at 05:45 - which I put on snooze for 10 more minutes! Breakfast is the highlight of my day, with a lot of yummy foods like sweet pastries but also some that I would normally have at dinner like chicken nuggets or fish fingers - but I'm not complaining, its all really tasty!;
In order to get to the conference we travel by bus with other groups as well as negotiators. This gives the chance for us to either to catch up on sleep or practice or lobbying skills for promoting non-formal education or gender issues related to climate change.
The conference hall is huge! The roof looks like its being held by a tree and you can turn a corner and walk into a giant sculpture of a spider or a pond filled with disco lights! Once we are through security and have used several escalators we reach our WAGGGS booth. The booth has displays of our work of WAGGGS and the views of our members about climate change.
Our days are busy and no one has the same experience! Someone looks after our stand, promoting WAGGGS or even signing up new members around the world! We attend negotiations and if we are lucky we get the chance to address the audience.
The communications team (Maria, Lizette & Chathushka) are always on twitter and facebook looking out for opportunities to get on TV, radio or a quote in an article. Sara attends the gender meetings along with Leah and Michelle. Lizzie is involved with the African Youth Working Group and Cecilia,the scientific one, is really getting into our article 6 work with Harriet and Bronwyn. Chathushka is busy writing a speech to give at a side event about her experiences which you will find out more about below.
Speaking out as one voice
Today Chathushka spoke up at a side event on Climate change and education, where she shared her personal experience of how non-formal education in the climate change, and speaking on behalf of our 10 million girl guides and girl scouts how guiding is helping making this act up for climate change issues.
After the event Chathushka said “When I was sitting up there in the discussion panel, I could see our delegation sitting everywhere among the crowd, looking up and giving thumbs ups! At that moment I got a feeling I’ve never felt before, I felt like we were such a strong team, when you guys were supporting me from the audience!”
/Liz, UK and Chathushka, Sri Lanka
|Monday 26 November|
As part of the WAGGGS policy group, we are making a difference for young girls by lobbying for something called Article 6 of the Convention. It is an issue which youth have had a lot of success with before and covers education, public participation and raising awareness about climate change.
Learning about climate change
We want all girls and young people to learn about climate change not only in school, but also through non-formal education, which WAGGGS is a perfect example of. Instead of working in the classroom, we use nature, creativity and games to teach girls about the environment in a fun way.
Ten Conferences ago in New Delhi, India, the Parties adopted a programme to carry out Article 6 commitments for five years. When this came to an end in 2007, the Parties agreed this was a good framework for action and decided to extend another five years. This year, we need to bring Article 6 back to the table because otherwise it will not be included in the official documents.
Six important points
The article includes six points key to spreading climate change messages, making sure that everyone has access to the same information. The six points are: education, training, public participation, awareness rising, international collaborations and cooperation.
Today we were excited to learn that Article 6 will be debated in the big meeting room tomorrow morning. We were also very happy to hear Bangladesh, Swaziland and the Philippines speaking up for it.
Article 6 in Doha
In Doha, Article 6 will have 90 minutes of negotiating time. We know the Parties have been reviewing this for the last year, lead by the Dominican Republic. Tomorrow, we will listen very carefully and reflect on what we want to include in the final decision. We want to see informal education remain part of the suggestion and include more youth participation in these meetings.
/Cecilia, Sweden and Sara, Canada
|Sunday 25 November|
WAGGGS is part of the solution
Today was our last day at COY, the Conference Of Youth, we have really enjoyed being here and meeting other youth, learning more and sharing experiences and success stories from around the world.
We started the day with a lesson on YOUNGO (the place, where youth come together during a COP) Spokes. Spokes are YOUNGO members who speak at the daily spokes council that YOUNGO have to share, what is going on throughout the day that others might be interested in as well as supporting each other in article and negotiation aims as well as action and lobbying.
Part of the solution
Mid day all YOUNGO members went out to create our YOUNGO picture, this year it was decided to create the word ‘get to work’ in Arabic out of our own members. Followed by making a human speech bubble out of ourselves as well. This was great as it was evidence of us all coming together and speaking out as youth
YOUNGO were approached by the two ‘red ladies’, who are the Dutch youth delegates and have started a campaign expressing that we can all be part of the solution to climate change. It involves supporters to take a picture of themselves with a speech bubble with “I am part of the solution, are you?” written in it, this is then to be shared on the ‘We are part of the solution’ Facebook page. We have all taken our picture with this and hope that you all too can take part in this too. Whilst at COP we will try to get as many people and negotiators with this bubble. We think, you should all participate, as we have no doubt as to WAGGGS members being part of the solution.
Our final task for the day was to go to the conference centre and register for COP18 by picking up our official passes to get in and out. Whilst there we were able to get a quick look around the inside of the conference centre, before it all starts tomorrow. We were all really impressed by how amazing it was and were excited for the coming days of the negotiations.
We have all been working hard these last couple of days to become capable representatives for WAGGGS and now feel ready to get to work. Wonder if we will have any sleep tonight, or if the excitement will keep us up.
/Leah, UK, Michelle, Lebanon and Lizzy, Zambia
|Saturday 24 November|
No longer feeling coy at COY!
Our second day at COY attending workshops in preparation for COP18
Bundles of Energy
On our second day at COY (Conference of Youth – in case, you’ve forgotten) we really got to experience the bundle of energy that a group of youth is. It is truly amazing to experience that such a variety of young people - different gender, different countries, different ages and different skin color – are coming together to fight for the climate.
Other things we like about COY are the free soda and the free coffee. We are however a bit on the fence with the food, which is vegan, but is made to look like meat.
The Connected Voices workshop was one which WAGGGS agreed to support with no hesitation. Connected Voices is a project initiated by the New Zealand Youth Delegation quite recently. WAGGGS is standing by their mission, which is to bring out the voices of the youth who are struggling and unable to be heard.
The ambition of Connected Voices is remarkable- how youth from developed countries are supporting the youth from less developed countries in their fight against climate change. As the developing countries in general have very few youth representatives at COP18 there is little chance of their voices being heard without help from others.
You can read up more about Connected Voices on our main COP18 page.
Strong Role Models
Bron, Sara & Lizette attended a workshop on Gender & Climate Change. We were moved by one of the examples shared by a group of young men from Ghana, Africa. They have set up a group which works with families in rural areas of Ghana to send their daughters to school, since the launch of the programme they have got 800 more girls into school!
One of the highlights of the day was Christiana Figueres, who is the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC – sounds complicated but she keeps everyone in line during climate discussions! She gave an inspirational speech about the role of youth at COP and you could see the enthusiasm spreading through the crowd like wildfire.
We did try to get in a photo with her, but her celebrity status means we had to settle for the ‘from a distance paparazzi style’ photo!
/Lizette, UK & Chathushka, Sri Lanka
|Friday 23 November|
A day of firsts
First full day of work in Doha, from group training to attending the first day of COY
This morning we were all officially declared as WAGGGS delegate with a little ceremony! We all given our own bag of delegate goodies. This included our WAGGGS scarf, a reusable water bottle, a USB stick bracelet (!), a tshirt and the all-important business cards for when we are speaking to other youth delegates, negotiators and the media.
Everyone came up one at time to cheering and clapping, we all felt proud to be part of the team and happy to have finally met each other in person after many hours of Skype conversations and emails!
‘Friendly, cheery, happy, smiley and helpful ALWAYS’
Today we talked about what the ‘ideal WAGGGS delegate’ looks like. We all decided she would be ‘friendly, cheery, happy, smiley and helpful ALWAYS’ – we hope we can live up this high standard we have set for ourselves!
It was also the first time we got into our various working groups and looked at the roles we were going to play at COP. These groups are called Actions, Policy and Communications. It was at this point of our training programme that we truly got to know each other.
Discussions and Dancing
In the afternoon we went to the first day of the Conference of Youth for the introduction to the weekend, these included different training sessions for improving our delegate skills but we also did youthful things like dancing around to gangnam style and creating secret handshakes for when we are in the conference.
It was inspirational to see all the other youth and their enthusiasm for a common goal.
/Lizette, UK and Chathushka, Sri Lanka
|Thursday 22 November|
We have travelled more hours, than you can count to get here. Now we are finally in the desert, in one of the riches countries in the world, in Doha, Qatar.
Already working hard
And though our hotel is very nice with a rooftop pool (we promise, we will give you a tour in a later blog), we have already been working hard. We’ve been making storyboards for videos with our very own Nanook. We’ve been discussing and drafting our policy paper. We’ve been writing a press release. Luckily we’ve also had some time to get to know each other.
In total, we are 12 girls in our delegation, coming and going over three weeks. Coming from India, Australian Bron was the first to arrive, shortly after the girls from England (Harriet, Leah and Rebecca) arrived. This was early yesterday morning.
They had some time to familiarize themselves with the surroundings, while waiting for the Scandinavian girls (Maria and Cecilia), arriving in the evening. We were all a bit exhausted from the flights, but there were no time to waist. Harriet and Bron were up late that night, planning the preparations for the coming days.
Today, Chathushka and Lizzy arrived in the morning. Unfortunately, they had no time to rest, because now we are on the move! There are many deadlines to keep, in order for us to get our message out at the conference.
We are very excited about all the actions that we are planning to do next week. We are especially happy to be collaborating with the International Greenpeace organization on the campaign ‘Save the Arctic’. Next week we will launch a new competition that you all should take part in. So, keep your eyes and ears open on December 3, when it’s all happening here at COP18.
A new culture
Now, we are waiting for the other girls to arrive to Qatar. In the meantime, we are writing up our different documents. Tonight we will meet
with Rachel. She is also a Girl Guide and lives here in Doha. She will tell us all about the local culture and what we should and should not do, while we are here.
/Chathushka, Sri Lanka and Cecilia, Sweden
Presenting the delegation
Until the delegation arrives in Qatar on the 21st of November, we will use our blog to present ourselves to you.
Leah Parsons, United Kingdom
I am Leah from Devon in the UK and am 20 years old. Last year I attended COP17 in Durban, South Africa, an experience I will never forget.
I learnt so much not just about climate change, negotiations but also the effect it is having on people around the world. For most people in the UK I think it is hard for us to understand greatly, what climate change is doing to our country as the effects aren’t that severe, compared to others around the world. Since returning from COP17 I have worked hard to get more people involved and understand, what climate change is and what is being done about it.
I am a leader for 1st Ivybridge Guides in my local town, when asking the girls, aged 10-14 what they knew and thought about the environment and climate change, they said that they are told too often about recycling and switching off plugs, but felt that in their households and where they live, they don’t have much decision as children to take much action.
Through Guiding they have all taken part in an apprenticeship style challenge learning and putting intro practise activities on the topics of car sharing, using recycled materials to create games, researching the possibilities and using locally produced food rather than imported ingredients.
After enjoying and learning so much from COP17 Since COP17 I have represented WAGGGS with speaking at St Martin-in-the-Field earlier in the year to a large audience and the Environmental Audit Committee, a WAGGGS event with ERM, GCNUK, UN Women and IBLF. I also won an award with Climate Week as the Most Inspirational Young Person.
I am excited and proud to be back as the Actions Working Group leader for the WAGGGS delegation at COP18. My hopes for COP18 is that the second commitment period to KP is agreed and that youth are taken more seriously. Working with the action working group is exciting, as it is great to see active messaging take place at such a formal conference.
I’m looking forward to COP18, seeing Qatar and being a voice for all 10 million WAGGGS members worldwide.
Nanook Ursus Maritimus, Arctic
I come to COP18 representing the Arctic, where we see the impact of the climate changes every day.
The vulnerable polar bears
I come from the animal family of polar bears. We live in many parts of the Arctic Circle. With the current rise in temperature, I see the ice melting around me, making it more difficult for me and my family to find food.
We hunt seals from a platform of sea ice, and as those platforms now melt earlier in the year, we are forced to get back to shore earlier which makes us very hungry for a very long time. We also have to swim longer distances to get to the hunting places.
I really enjoy playing in the snow with my sibling and though the water is cold, I am not one to turn away from a nice swim in the ocean. My favourite food is seal, but I do not mind trying something different, while in Qatar.
Otherwise I love hanging around with Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Most recently I visited WAGGGS’ World Centre Pax Lodge in London, where I had a great time.
I am really excited to join the WAGGGS delegation at COP18 and look forward to meeting all of you in Doha.
Lizzy Ngwenya, Zambia
I am Lizzy Ngwenya from Zambia, 18 years of age. I am very excited to be part of the COP18 conference which is due to start in just a few days to come.
As a Girl Guide I believe and trust that there is so much we can do in order to have a green environment and of course adapt to the already changing climate.
There are a number of projects that i have been doing here at home. These projects include the 6R project and of course educating people about the hot topics concerning climate change. I have been working in patrols with the other girl guides and this has been very educative and interesting experience.
I am looking forward to sharing ideas with different people of different cultures as well. I am so pleased to be part of the delegates travelling to Doha. The excitement is so high about the conference that I want the days to go by as fast as possible to the day of the conference.
Not only is this learning venture but it is also an opportunity to meet people who I believe we share the same goal of living in a green and healthy environment.
Wishing all the other delegates travelling to Doha and those already in Doha all the best as they prepare for the conference. See you all in Qatar.
Michelle Jalkh, Lebanon
Heading to Qatar in less than 20 days! I am really grateful for this opportunity and excited to join the WAGGGS delegation at COP 18 in Qatar. It will be a great experience and hard work, but I am looking forward to see what can be achieved. I am convinced that WOMEN can make a difference.
Together we are strong, divided we fall
This is my first experience as part of a WAGGGS delegation; I am very motivated about the COP18 in Qatar and slightly nervous representing my country and my local member organisation. Taking part in this delegation will help me improving my knowledge.
We should be the one starting to implement solutions such as wind power, wave technology, water treatment centres, and recycling stations. Governmental policies are not the only solution; increasing environment awareness and understanding the risk, we are facing is an important element towards better future.
During my studies in this field I realised that Lebanon has considerable resources in agri-business but, unfortunately, is far from making use of these resources.
Throughout the different activities organised with and for the Lebanese farmers all over Lebanon I was able to get an overview the marginalization these farmers are living in.
I would also love the opportunity to raise awareness on the important issue of climate change within people of my generation.
Girls Guiding in Lebanon
Being an active member of Girls Guides has had a great impact in my life.
A couple of years ago, I organized a training for more than 200 girls to enhance camping techniques in an eco friendly way.
We are now working with young girls to enhance their self esteem so they become active in their society,
Chathushka Amarasinghe, Sri Lanka
I still remember that one morning last month, having started off the day by checking my mail and seeing that one unread email that stood out from the rest. It was from WAGGGS, to inform that I’ve been qualified to be part of the WAGGGS Youth Delegation at COP 18! For the first time ever, to be the voice of 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts- as a WAGGGS delegate. That really made my day. Honestly, it turned out to be one of the happiest days of my life.
Climate change-the melt down point for the whole 7 billion of us
Climate change is a global issue, to which we can all connect, no matter from what part of the world we’re from. Hence I’m so thankful for having being given this opportunity, because I want to not only talk about this issue, but also contribute something to save ‘our planet’.
Taking up a responsibility, not just for yourself
My homeland Sri Lanka, being a magnificently alluring tropical island has forest coverage of about 20 per cent and a truly amazing greenery hood spreading across the country including cities, which is visible through an aerial view of the country.
However, it is pathetic to know that our ‘paradise under the sun’ is already experiencing impacts of climate change, even though as I think, we are a country that contributes the least to global warming. Extreme weather patterns like harsh droughts in the dry zones adversely affect farmers and their agricultural activities. It also affects our diversity. Amphibians & leeches that live in wet habitats are quietly disappearing, as their ‘home bases’ are drying up.
While the wider spread of vectors like mosquitoes is another effect of global warming faced by us. It is also discovered that one day in the future,( as expected by some other islands as well) that our coastal areas will also be gradually taken in by the Indian ocean, as the sea water levels rise, effecting lives & homes of many people living in coastal areas, specially the fishing community.
It is our responsibility to care for one another, like these helpless coastal communities all over the world, and also to save our bio diversity. For this, we must all unite, take up responsibility & act cautiously. That is what really motivated me.
If it isn’t for the voice youth, who else has a more livelier voice?
Just as any other sensible human being, I too try my best all the time to minimize damage to the environment in everything, I do from waking up until going to bed at night. Unfortunately today, this may not be the case with everyone. Technically speaking, it is very difficult to change the wrong ideas in adults. Myself being only 19, I hope to spread our message mostly among children and youth my age.
Young people are clearly the most efficient age category in any society, hence it’s young people/girls who can lead the way to minimise climate change by adapting newer methods of bringing awareness.
It’s exactly another 22 days more! The currents of excitement from the first day are still running about in me! And now little by little, the serious work has begun!
Can’t wait to see you all in Doha!
/Chathushka, Sri Lanka
Harriet Thew, United Kingdom
I have been working for WAGGGS for several months; this will be the second WAGGGS delegation I have had the privilege to lead, after taking the team to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) earlier this year. Previously, I worked in the UK on climate change education and grassroots community and youth-led projects to tackle climate change, with a particular focus on adaptation and flood risk management.
The power of education
I love speaking to Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from other countries to hear about their experience of climate impacts and their initiatives to tackle climate change through advocacy, awareness raising and positive youth-led action. Every day I get to see first-hand the tremendous power that education (both formal and non-formal) can have on empowering children and youth to make meaningful, lasting positive change and I am excited to share these examples with the world.
I am particularly interested in Article 6, the part of the UNFCCC which focuses on education, training, participation, cooperation, international cooperation and awareness. Climate change increases existing inequalities which means that girls and young women are more affected by impacts, but we also have the skills, the ideas and the drive to be part of the solution. Policies, programmes and treaties to tackle climate change will be more successful if girls and young women are at their heart.
Leaders of today - custodians of the future
A firm believer in the power of the wilful individual, I feel privileged to be coming to COP 18 with engaged and passionate young women from around the world. Together we can show the UN that we are the leaders of today, as well as the custodians of the future, and that educating and engaging with youth is a very wise investment.
Cecilia Wesslén, Sweden
This is my first time as a part of a WAGGGS delegation and I am really thankful for the opportunity to join the rest of the girls at COP18 in Qatar. Even though I'm working with the climate issue in some way every day, there is still a lot to read and learn about the climate negotiations.
It will be hard work, but I'm definitely looking forward to see what we can do at the conference. I am convinced that we can make a difference as one of the voices from the youth. We and our children are the future of this planet, so it is important that we make ourselves heard and understood.
PhD in Atmospheric Science
During my education in physics and meteorology I've learn a lot about how the climate system works, it's sensitivity to changes and the global consequences. Now, during my PhD it is very obvious to me what is going on, on a global scale. The latest decline in summer sea ice in the Arctic is one example.
Since I have some knowledge about our climate system and the consequences of climate change, I take it as my responsibility to tell people about it and make sure that the decision-makers are well informed. Sometimes, I get the felling that there is a really big gap between the science and the policy. I would like to make that a little smaller.
Scouting in Sweden
As a leader of Adventure Scouts in Sweden I try to include climate change in my work. Also, on a national level my goal to increase the awareness and education in all age groups. It should be easy for leaders to talk about this with all scouts and maybe come up with activities that we can do all together in order to learn more and also to help communities that suffers more than we do.
Even if Sweden, so far, hasn't seen so many consequences of climate change, we are still a part of the world's problems. We also have to make sure that people won't make the same mistakes as us when building their communities. Instead, I believe that everyone in the world should the take the opportunity to make new innovations and show that we can continue our lives in a sustainable environment without any emissions.
See you soon in Qatar!
Lizette Simpson, United Kingdom
November seems so far away, but then in between now and leaving for Qatar I've got several Guide meetings, a Jubilee Activity Day to organise as well as a holiday, so that only leaves me 21 days to go!
We can save our planet
This is my first time as part of a WAGGGS delegation, so I am slightly nervous representing 10 million girls and young women, however I believe the power of one voice can change the world especially when its backed by millions of others who stand next to me.
We have already seen, at international policy level where decisions are being made on climate change, that girls and young people have proven to be important and influential when seeking change and raising awareness, for example at UNFCC COP15, children and young people presented their Action Plan on Climate Change to the UK Secretary of State for Climate Change. Young people inspire other young people to take action and get involved and I hope that I will inspire at least one person to make a difference.
Be the change you wish to see in the world
We can't always change everyone’s beliefs but we can try and change their behaviour by setting a good example or through education. I've also seen the power of education and empowerment at work whilst on a GOLD project with Girlguding UK in Guyana where we led training sessions to help empower young girls and women to take the lead in an environmental project in their local area.
Members in the United Kingdom cannot help but be aware of how climate change can affect daily life, even a small difference such as an extra day of rain can have a huge impact on their lives. This has led to Girlguiding Cymru (Wales) to develop a Flood Awareness challenge to educate young members on how to prepare for and deal with flooding to encourage them to lead by example amongst their peers.
When spider webs unite they can tie up a lion
I have always had an interested in doing what I can to help the environment, as I come from a family of keen recyclers and re-users of materials from wood to tin cans, everything has a second or even third use.
Through my experience in Guyana, I have seen how climate change can affect our members but also how, with the right encouragement, they can stand up as one and make difference in the world. So I am proud to be at COP18, not only as a WAGGGS delegate representing all its members, but representing all living creatures united in a common cause.
See you all soon!
Maria Nitzsch Hastrup, Denmark
I might seem a little crazy, but I must confess that I am already counting down the days. However, I must also admit that it is kind of difficult to being excited already, as it seems so far away – Qatar and COP are still undefined in my mind and currently just words on a computer screen (normally I would say piece of paper, but I of course do not print, as I think of the environment).
Being part of something bigger
It is my second time to be part of a WAGGGS delegation, so in that sense I am not completely new in the game, where we as girl guides and girl scouts try to make the world a better place. I already know that we will be positive, images of the hardworking young women all over the world and easily recognized because of our scarfs. I also know that being a part of a delegation will bring on challenges, newfound knowledge and laughter with new friends. And I know that I at least once during the COP will get the feeling that I am a part of something bigger.
The Green Girl Guide from Denmark
Being a Green Girl Guide in Denmark it is natural to take the color of our uniform serious – and think green. By living in Denmark many of the members do not face the impacts of climate change, but that does not mean that we should not include it in our guiding work. This is why we have programs designed to teach all age groups about climate change and responsible use of the earth’s scarce recourses. It is my firm belief that as girl guides, even just as girls and women in the world, we have to be the drivers of change towards a sustainable living and responsible behavior.
Since I was 17 I have been deeply involved in development work and I have completely lost my heart to the African continent. I have made videos on guide and scout projects with street children in Malawi and refugees in Southern Sudan, danced with Zambian girl guides and I am currently living in Tanzania, where I am an intern at the Danish Embassy.
Through my work in Africa I have seen how the world’s poorest are affected by the climate changes and this is what drives me personally. It is not that I pretend that I can be their voice, but I believe that if I can tell just a small part of their story, I might be able to change the world a little bit. So I am coming to COP18 not only representing myself, but also proudly representing all of WAGGGS’ members.
Still counting the days – Qatar and COP18, see you in 37 days!