It’s all learning by doing...

- My first experience with climate negotiations

My insights into the world of Climate Change negotiations started inBrusselsin October 2011, where a bunch of young people met to prepare for COP17. WAGGGS had organized for me to attend and everyone was there as part of YOUNGO (what’s that? See the box below!).

I was, and I still am, a novice in climate negotiations. Luckily, many of the others were very experienced, and they were happy to pass on their knowledge to novices like me. Some advices were easy to grasp (plan your day in advance, check your email, don’t wear heels, know your acronyms). However, the whole spirit of the negotiations and how they work is just really hard to grasp…

Once again, good old Girl Guiding/Girl Scouting techniques were effective. I was happy to experience that they are also used in YOUNGO. Thus, I suddenly found myself in the middle of the negotiations at COP16. Or more precisely, it was a simulation of them, where all novices like me played YOUNGO and the experienced people played negotiators. Now I know what to do, and what not to do. Some things I remember:

  • Don’t panic when you meet important people in the hall – take advantage!
  • Prepare speaking points to be able to take advantage of those unexpected meetings
  • Don’t be late for important meetings
  • We are young people, and we should not hide this fact … Act young!
  • But still, we must respect the basic rules of the game

After our weekend inBrussels, I am still a novice in climate negotiations. But I am a slightly better prepared novice and the additional online training that I receive from WAGGGS directly helps a lot too. Now I am a novice ready for much more learning by doing in Durban in a few weeks!

Mia, WAGGGS Youth Delegate at COP 17 from Denmark

YOUNGO: There is a huge amount of NGO’s who wants to influence the climate negotiations. What happens is that they are put together in official groups which are called constituencies. Apart from the youth constituency (YOUNGO) there are others like the Business NGOs (BINGO), the Trade Unions (TUNGO), the Environmental NGOs (ENGO) and so on. The constituencies need to be approved by the UN Member States to be part of the negotiations and this official status gives the constituency a ‘place at the negotiation table’.

In YOUNGO, WAGGGS can work together with other organisations for young people. That means that being part of YOUNGO allows us, the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in WAGGGS, to join something bigger and thus gain more influence than we could alone. This reminds me of the Guiding method. I would think of YOUNGO as our patrol. We work together to be heard and respected and participate in decision-making.


During the weekend, we also worked on strategies for what young people should try to change in Durban