While the UNFCCC COP is mostly a meeting of official representatives of the governments of the world trying to tackle the global problem of climate change, there is also a large presence of non-government stakeholders at these meetings. These include both civil society organisations and businesses. Special exhibition space is made available separately for non-profits and for-profits, and there are also a large number of official as well as unofficial side events happening throughout the couple of weeks of the COP. There is also a specially designated area where individual countries showcase their climate change related achievements in their own pavilions, and some side events happen in individual country pavilions too. So apart from the governments doing their own business of climate change negotiations, COP is also a big networking and information exchange opportunity for non-government stakeholders active in the sectors of climate change mitigation (reducing green house gas emissions) and adaptation (finding ways to deal with impacts of climate change that are now avoidable).
The INECC team had a very busy schedule on the first official day of the COP, 3 December. We had to set up our exhibition booth in the morning and we also had our official side event on the topic of Climate Friendly Technologies: Improving Adaptive Capacity of Women and Building Resilience.
|Our Exhibition Booth|
So we were not sure what to expect. There were three speakers lined up - myself from Samuchit, Siddharth D'Souza from Laya and Colin McQuistan from Practical Action UK. We were supposed to have a self-invited speaker, an ex Member of Parliament from Uganda, but after the initial email expressing her intention to participate, her office had been noncommunicative. However we were fortunate to have Dr. Saleemul Haq, International Center for Climate Change and Development, based in Bangladesh, as a commentator. The event was ably co-ordinated by Ajita Tiwari, national facilitator of INECC.
It was a pleasant surprise to see the event room fill up with audience a few minutes before the starting time. We had 90+ people in the audience when we started, and although people keep coming and going as they are trying to catch a number of parallelly ongoing events, we still had more than 50% of the original audience when we finally wrapped up 90 minutes later.
|The Crowd at our side event|
|Speaking at the side event|
Dr. Huq talked about the success story of Bangladesh in reducing population growth rate through education and empowerment of women. He also described how women-centric solar energy and improved cook stoves initiatives in Bangladesh that are not only improving women's quality of life, but also creating income generating opportunities for them which raises their status in the family.
We all highlighted the disconnect between policy and finance on one hand and the ground reality on the other hand, and the lack of gender considerations in technology focused discussions in the climate change negotiations.
The audience was quite responsive and overall we got positive feedback on the event. So that is one main task that we had as a team at COP24, and I think we did well!
|From L to R: Siddharth, Colin, Myself, Dr Huq, Ajita|
Photos Courtesy: Myron Mendis, Laya