Halfway

Half of my time at the COP23 negotiations has already passed. I feel like I’ve just gotten used to the chaos and nonstop action. I’m beginning to figure out where my own priorities lie and how I can best take advantage of accomplishing them while here.

Today was full of meetings and starting to feel comfortable with the structure and systems at play within the two zones here. I’m still intrigued about the relationship between the Bonn physical host and the Fijian presidency hosting in an ideological sense. I find it so interesting how the power of global north and global south is present in this space because of the host.

In the Open Dialogue session where Parties and non-Parties came together, it was powerful to hear so many constituencies express that they had never been given this kind of input during a COP. Many non-Parties touched on the fact that because they weren’t used to receiving this kind of attention, the public would have to bear with them while they learned their role and used their voice in this space. With the usage of formal language in the official and non-official events here, I wonder how much of it they actually mean. It pains me to think that each of the constituencies feel the need to apologize for a system that doesn’t value their voice. It makes me reflect on the ways our task-oriented culture affects how we let ourselves learn.

I strongly believe that the only way to learn is by doing, and when this happens usually it involves making mistakes. To me this is a key and necessary part of the process. However, as a woman, I find myself and my peers apologizing for things we don’t know or don’t have experience with all the time. I always wonder how this affects how we learn, but also how we let ourselves learn and what that can look like.

I wonder how much of this could explain the pressure that I feel being here in these negotiations. While it is 100% incredible and such an honor to be here, it does feel like I need to try and use every second in a strategic way. And that doesn’t leave much room for listening, making mistakes, or exploration. Or, to just give myself enough time to figure out how this works and feel comfortable in the space. These things are key to me feeling like I am doing worthwhile things here and that my presence makes a difference.

Ultimately, this is how people trying to change how the world works must feel. I’ve come to realize – through trying to do as much as I can while I’m here – that self care is such an integral part of feeling like my presence matters and like I can fully be present.

That being said, it’s easy to see that different people have different presences here at the negotiations. It’s so special to hear from unique perspectives and see those that have unique ways of occupying this space through song, action, and stance. In one of the press conferences I went to today, one of the panelists put down his sunglasses and started rapping. This was such a welcome change of atmosphere and energy. It reminded me of the diversity here and the unity we can find through our common goals. While the conference that brings us together is more formal, generally quieter, and doesn’t look like the type of climate action I gain the most energy and motivation from, we are still here for a common goal. That, for me, is something I want to carry forward in connecting with more people from the international climate movement during the rest of my time here.

The two videos I posted are from Atam Katana, an indigenous filmmaker, and a blessing of food at the Indigenous Peoples Pavilion earlier today. They inhabited the UNFCCC space in a unique way and definitely contrasted to the official and formal model the negotiations have.

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