My COP17 experience

WAGGGS COP17 delegate Ashley Geddes, from Canada, writes on her inspiring experience of being part of the climate change conference delegation.

Ashley GeddesMy journey to COP17 started back in September, when I found out I had been selected as a WAGGGS delegate. Never had I imagined that at 6am on Fridays I would be talking to other Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from around the world on our expert chats on Skype.

After weeks of preparation, it still hadn’t quite sunk in that I was going to Africa and to COP17, even with the long flights from Canada to Durban.

Although we had a week to prepare in South Africa before the COP actually started, it was hard to know what to expect until we actually dove into it. From my perspective as a member of a non-governmental organization (NGO), it was great to see so many passionate youths in one location. This really helped to make me feel more comfortable there, especially with some of the other youth delegates having been to a COP before and being able to share their knowledge and experiences with me.

Passionate young adults

It was a positive atmosphere among the youth delegates. I admire that so many of these young adults are passionate about this important topic and work on it every year. It inspired me to want to contribute as best as I can in my everyday life, as well as presenting this information to my Girl Guides at home.

The days at COP were long, but well worth it. Reading the constant stream of emails, running to side events and meetings, working with my Working Group, and just trying to be in several places at once were the common daily activities. At times it may have seemed like information overload but, at the end of the day, it was a great learning experience.

The best experience

My overall impression of my time at COP17 is that it was an amazing experience and one of the best experiences I have had in Girl Guiding and in my life. I have met so many wonderful, strong, and ambitious women who have truly inspired me.

I realize now, even more than ever, that the youth are very important in the negotiations and must be considered, and that women do bear a heavier burden due to climate change  I have heard the first-hand accounts from my own sisters in Girl Guiding.

Although some of what was going on in the negotiations and meetings may have, at times, seemed a little over my head, my time at COP17 has been an inspirational one. It has given me even more motivation to continue to be actively involved in the climate change and environmental challenge that we are facing and to continue educating my Girl Guides.

As we all know, and I truly do believe, youth and Girl Guides are a part of the solution.