In November 2018, I got the chance to travel to this year’s CBD Cop 14 which was held in Sharm-El-Sheikh from Nov 17 – 29.
I joined the conference from the date of 23rd November. It was my first international conference and I could learn very much from this experience. Experiencing the negotiations and processes up close, it helped me a lot in order to understand the interaction among the UN-bodies and the democratically system applied at the Convention. And I was delighted about the friendly and charismatic atmosphere that was expressed by all COP participants. People from all around the world – countries I have never heard of – presented their traditional clothes and were not too shy to ask questions and to get involved.
I was especially fond of negotiations and followed “Working Group 1” throughout accomplishing their agenda during the second week of the COP. One of their aims was defining guidelines on digital sequence information on genetic resources. A contact group was established which met throughout the meeting. This contact group always filled the rows of seats with its participants and you could sense this sweet bitter tasting atmosphere that arose during negotiations inside the room, as every participating party was very much in the mood for discussions as the topic was very sensitive and highly important to some of the countries. I noticed ties between parties during my visits and could observe the same parties causing trouble by not being willing to withdraw their requests. Still, parties and the chair of the session where extremely polite and I was simply astonished of the democracy that was displayed. Also when a NGO promoting indigenous people was allowed to have a say, their request was supported by a party and then taken into the paper.
Besides following the contact group I choose, I enjoyed checking out side events about the arctic, the ocean and a very critical panel discussion whether the CBD COP may and should even learn from the pathway of the UNFCCC.
I have seen the reason why my study program pressures students to hold tons of presentations and how people try and use these conferences for networking in every corner. Still, I wish there were more students participating and also more offers for youth engagement.
Overall I want to emphasize that visiting a UN conference is a highly personal contribution and I would even go so far to claim that some people might feel as a different person afterwards, a person part of a big, heterogeneous community working for the same vision.
I want to thank GCE, Bayceer and the ENB to have made this visit possible for me.