Hawaiian youth leader Keoni Rodriguez opened a meeting between USCAN partners and the head negotiator of the United States with a prayer for those who are no longer with us and for those yet to be born, to give us compassion for the land, the sea, and the air as we come together in this work.
This grounding was a powerful reminder for all of why we came to this space and the goals we share in this work. In the first day of week two, I have been blown away by the incredible leaders from around the world whom I’m amazed to cross paths with at this event. After a relatively quiet Saturday getting up to speed, Monday opened full throttle with thousands of participants flowing through the gates of IFEMA.
COP25 fills six halls the size of a football/futbol field at the convention center, each broken into a dozen smaller rooms for discussions, panels, party pavilions, private meetings, press conferences, and delegation offices.
Crossing each hall, you watch attendees in formal business suits or traditional clothing rushing to every corner. Cafe tables and lounge areas are set up in between meeting rooms like a campus center, where you hear a dozen languages around you, all deep in excited conversation. Some participants are incredibly worldly—diplomats with ties to every continent— and for some it’s their first time out of their home country or even hometown.
I was humbled by the people I spoke with casually throughout the day and the passion they brought into this space: a legislator from Myanmar, a researcher from Mexico, a father from Tonga, a student from Chile, an engineer from South Korea…partners across regions with shared values and goals working to protect this planet and future generations.
Some partners who are more engaged in negotiations are out of sight through most of the day, hopping from one meeting to the next, while others have more flexibility to attend panels to connect with and learn from counterparts around the world sharing frontline experiences, recommendations, research, and other models to bring home.
I am lucky to be connected through Climate Generation to a strong network of engaged partners working to influence negotiations, share their expertise, and share the burden. The Climate Action Network shares updates and insight for partners across working groups to engage collectively in rejecting false solutions and advancing human rights into Article 6 negotiations. The UNFCCC network through which we’re accredited with education, communication, and outreach stakeholders works to elevate education and engagement of communities for their own solutions.
The gathering of thousands of experts and experiences from around the world is powerful to foster relationships and trust through which collective action is built.
The diversity of experiences and unique challenges facing each community makes multilateral negotiations slow and challenging, but in this diversity is also strength, to become aware of false solutions and push our negotiators to rise to the challenge of creating truly resilient and equitable solutions that reflect the cultures, context, and vision of each community. I look forward to engaging with our partners to advance negotiations and share opportunities to step into leadership in our own communities.