WAGGGS Delegates’ Preparation for COP17

ElaineMurphy2Although COP17 hasn’t yet begun, the WAGGGS delegates have been busy preparing for the conference. We have been learning about COP17 and the structure of the UNFCCC through interactive modules and watching videos from past COPs. The modules are designed to teach us about what all of the acronyms mean, and more importantly, what the different parties and policies do.

Let me give you a quick overview...

First of all, the UNFCCC stands for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This is an environmental treaty that encompasses most of the world’s nations, which are called “Parties”. These parties meet annually to vote on and set international and national policies relating to climate change, a meeting that is called the Conference of the Parties, or COP. This is the 17th COP, hence “COP17”.

YOUNGO is the Youth Non-Governmental Organization subsidiary of the UNFCCC. WAGGGS is a part of YOUNGO, as are several other youth organizations. YOUNGO gives a voice to global youth and unites youth on issues such as climate change education.

A big issue for COP17 will be the Kyoto Protocol (KP), which was agreed upon at COP3 in Kyoto. Countries who agreed to the KP set their own emissions reductions targets, for a commitment period that expires at the end of 2012. When the KP expires, countries will either agree to a second commitment period, or will adopt a new, similar agreement. This is a somewhat controversial and quite difficult issue, as there are many countries who won’t budge on their views toward the KP. WAGGGS will be pushing for a fair, ambitious and binding (FAB) agreement.

We have also been having weekly expert calls with climate experts, who have given us more information and explanation on the KP and the different policies and bodies of the UNFCCC. It has been very helpful and informative to hear these issues explained by an expert!

What's WAGGGS got to do with it....

We have also been learning more about the issues most important to WAGGGS members. One of WAGGGS’ biggest focus areas is studying how climate change relates to girls and young women, especially those in developing countries; another focus point is non-formal education for everyone – that is, programs outside of classrooms, like those we as Girl Scouts and Girl Guides deliver to our members. We believe that educating girls about climate change will empower girls to make a difference in the fight against climate change. WAGGGS helped develop Article 6, which advocates for non-formal education, and was adopted last year at COP16 in Cancun.

Finally, we’re brainstorming ideas for actions to take on YoFuGe Day on December 1. These fun and attention-grabbing actions demonstrate the youth voice to negotiators and let us stand up for our issues. Youth and WAGGGS members from around the world – at COP and at home – will join us in these actions, so watch this space to learn how to get involved!

Elaine, WAGGGS delegate at COP 17 fromthe United States of America