Between doubt and hope at COP19

Day 2 at the COP – we’re less confused and more organised than we were yesterday. We pick the side events we find interesting, meet with other youth organisations, plan a meeting with members of the German parliament for tomorrow.

Furthermore, it’s gender day today – calling to keep striving for gender balance in the bodies to the COP and the Kyoto protocol as decided by COP18. Women are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, but nevertheless underrepresented in almost all of the bodies of the COP. Not only German politicians are discussing a “Frauenquote”….

Even more striking than the underrepresentation of women is the underrepresentation of people from the global south. It’s very obvious on the first sight that the biggest part of the 10,000 participants here at COP come from the global north. How can this be changed? People from the global south often lack financial means to come to these conferences. Language is another barrier. For us university students in Germany it is not difficult to follow events and discussions in English because we have had the opportunity to learn foreign languages. But what about the indigenous woman who is sitting next to me in this event on “Vision 50/50: Women for Action on Climate Change”. Luckily she has someone translating for her, but it is so much harder for her to make her voice heard than it is for us. Unfortunately she was not able to raise her point in this event because the discussion was closed due to time constraints – I would have loved to hear her point of view. Maybe I should have asked her afterwards?

At a press conference, youth organisations also raised their concerns about participation of youth from the global south. Some years ago, there were special financial funds available to facilitate their participation, but they have been cut now. Furthermore, visa issues play an important role. Young people from Nigeria for example have not been able to obtain visa to come to this COP. As Europeans it is hard for us to imagine that participation can be inhibited because of a missing stamp or paper in the passport.

Despite these and many more points that give reason to doubt a meaningful solution to climate change, there are also many hopeful voices. Elizabeth Njoroge presented this hope in a particular touching way – she sang at the event on gender day: “We have a dream, a dream of hopes to turn a page that marks a golden age, A greener course, a greener course for planet earth.”
Let’s join these hopeful, active, committed people and keep reminding politicians and ourselves that it needs the effort of us all to fight climate change.

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