Cecilia: Week 1 – Climate Change Education
The first week of COP21 is almost over and we have had very long days, from early morning meetings to negotiations late in the evenings. Some of the negotiations started already on Sunday evening and we were involved in preparing a speech at the opening.
Claire was chosen to give the intervention, representing the youth, but unfortunately we were never given the opportunity. It was of course a disappointment, but we learned a lot in the process.
Instead, the official week started on Monday with the leaders event. Presidents, ministers and others had their speeches, while we where busy preparing our first action. We knew that education would be negotiated early in the week and we had to be prepared.
An action is an event where usually people from the civil society prepare something visible like signs or clothes with a clear message together with a song, dance or some kind of chanting. It can also be interactive.
The purpose of our action was to show the importance of education. We made a few puzzle pieces out of cardboard with the words “Climate Change Education is…” and some other with suggestions on how to finish the sentence, like “important”, “necessary” or “investing in a bright future”.
It was a successful action, as we managed to involve the people walking by! Many negotiators and officials stopped to take pictures with our puzzle pieces! It was a lot of fun and many other youth organizations also participated. Since the action was already on the first day, we clearly showed our commitment.
During the second day, the youth had a press conference, presenting a summary of our policy statement. I was chosen to the represent the Education working group. I tried to explain why we think that education, both formal and non-formal, is a key in a successful agreement. Without education, we do not have the knowledge or capacity to prepare and tackle climate change.
On Wednesday evening, the negotiations on capacity building reached the important article about education, training and public awareness. However, we were not allowed to enter the room. We asked the chair if it would be possible to attend anyway. And guess what – it worked! We observed one of the meetings and talked to important negotiators afterwards, before the last meeting. During those discussions, we managed to convince them that the word “shall” needs to be included in the text! One of our friends attended the negotiations that evening and later sent us a message with the text “Congratulations everyone, the text was accepted! Time to celebrate.”
Young and Future Generation Day
On Thursday it was YFG-day and we organize a mini side event in the morning. We called it “How low can you go?” and it was similar to a TV show like “how becomes a millionaire?”, except we had 2 people competing against each other. The questions were all related to education, gender, human rights, youth participation and community action. The entire delegation was involved, but also managed to engage the audience.
After our morning session, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC Christiana Figures and the UN Envoy of Youth Ahmad Alhendawi joined the stage. Children from the Children’s Climate Change Conference handed over their declaration and I was very moved by their little speech. I really hope that our contribution to this conference will have an influence on their lives…
Finally, Friday was Education day, filled with side events related to the topic. Ale, from our delegation participated in a panel about non-formal education. She shared her experience from working with WAGGGS’ program and the different challenge badges, related to climate change and food security.
Several times I’ve been reminded that this is a historical conference. I just hope that it will pay off in the end. The WAGGGS delegation have at least shown how important climate change education is to us. People call us the “education experts”. We are lucky that most of the negotiators listen to us and take us seriously. Maybe it is because of the fact that we are experts in practicing non-formal education back home and people always recognize us with our WAGGGS scarves!