So, this is my first time overseas, as apparently Tasmania and New Zealand don’t count. I feel so privileged to represent CQUniversity and to be selected for this prestigious Global Voices scholarship, it is like the last piece of the puzzle to my university journey.
After three long flights, and a train from a regional town in Australia I step foot in Germany, 15,039 km away from my home town of Townsville. The feeling is surreal, and my week has only begun!
After a couple of days of exploring the town of Bonn and surrounds I have settled into my home for the next week. This year Global voices delegates are attending the second week only of the UNFCCC Climate Talks Conference, COP23.
To give you some background, as defined by Global Voices page, the UNFCCC Climate Talks conference is a global mechanism that aims to provide an intergovernmental platform to mitigate the effects of climate change. 194 countries are signatory members and these member states come together annually at the Conference of Parties (COP) to assess the levels of progress in mitigating these effects.
Our week at the COP23 is structured around meetings with exceptional leaders and inspirational people, all organised by the program managers with the rest of the days for us to explore the conference and attend side events, exhibitions, and negotiations.
To give you brief understanding of the conference logistics, this year’s conference is broken into two different zones, the Bonn zone where all the side events happen and Bula zone where the negotiations occur.
They said the week would go fast and it surely did, but what a great week it has been.
You can read daily wraps up from each delegate on the Global Voices Blog, but here I would like to generally provide you a reflection of my personal experience, what I have learnt and what I enjoyed most about the conference.
I will be honest I am still digesting my learnings and experience from last week that I am struggling to put it into words for you. Personally, the experience was an opportunity that I am very grateful for and was an experience that has given insight to the operations of the world, how we are going to come together to combat climate change and how we are going to ensure everyone has the necessary platform to achieve their targets and make a difference.
As someone who is very passionate and intrigued by climate change, I enjoyed learning how each country has a different but still effective approach to achieving their targets and their plan to create a more sustainable future. Therefore, I spent a lot of time in the Bonn zone, visiting each country pavilion learning and engaging in their presentations about various topics.
I participated in many sessions around smaller island climate change challenges including talks called; Risk-informing development: a revolution in adapting change in the pacific and secondly, Food security and nutrition in small island developing sates in a changing climate, to name a few.
As you can tell by the session names, there was a large focus around the smaller island inhabitants including the pacific islands. As Fiji hosted COP23 for 2017, it was a chance for these vulnerable island countries to create awareness and the needs required for the future of their land. By reaching out to other more developed countries for assistance in creating climate resilient habitats, this can be either achieved through funding or the development programs.
Within the islands, their ocean is incredibly important to them, it is their way of life, it is their livelihoods. Without the ocean, there would be nothing for them, there would be no source of income to their economy, no meaning of life for the islanders and no food security. Therefore, these varying severities of climate possesses a challenge to the islanders, that requires immediate action so that now and into the future these effects can be minimised. This key focus and theme was present throughout the conference and it was informative to learn how some countries are now or will contribute to the pacific islands and other island countries, to assist is these dramatic changes. For example, Australia, is contributing through a partnership and a program called ‘Pacific Risk Resilience Programme (PRRP)’, that builds connections in times of disasters, allowing the effected islands to turn to Australia in need.
Meanwhile in the Bula zone, progress is made, converting words into action. Part of the focus of the negotiations this year was turning the Pairs agreement into a formatted rule book, ensuring all countries have the accessibility to achieve their targets and understand the requirements. However, participating in these discussions were difficult as there were very few open meetings and negotiations, meaning having the access to be an observer and watch the meetings procedures. The ones deemed to be interesting were closed, therefore had redistricted access to who was allowed in. Nevertheless, I observed two negotiations which allowed me to better understand the procedure of the discussions, which was different to what I anticipated. I also attended a high-level segment event which involved leaders of each country under the Paris agreement to speak about their country’s progress and their future plan to create a more sustainable nation.
And there is more……we also had the privilege of meeting some of the leaders of Australia and past Global Voice delegates, demonstrating the potential we have from this opportunity to take us places and go beyond what we thought possible.
All in all, it is not just the leaders of this world who can make changes and differences, it is also up to us as individuals to create change in our own community. Many drops of water can add up to a huge ocean.
Thank you for reading and I hope this has inspired you to apply for a Global Voice scholarship or kindled your interests into wanting to learn more about the conference proceedings.