Thursday, November 17, 2022

Firsthand experience at the COP27 Egypt

Hello people, 

Being a local from Pune and working along with grassroot initiatives gives me a feeling of immense pleasure and satisfaction. But when you get a chance to talk about the initiatives with people at a global platform it’s the next level feeling.

The 27th Conference of Parties (COP) is one of the most expensive ones happening post covid. It is partly as a recovery from the pandemic and partly because the host city is a resort city. One may feel why organize such large scale meetings and consultations? Why to add to the already increasing emissions pool?

Trust me this global meeting is very much needed from accountability perspective. It’s a platform where NGOs, Activists, Youth, Civil Society Members like you and me get an opportunity to hold the Head of the States, Ministers and Negotiators our leaders responsible for their actions at an international level. This platform has a legal binding so if that is a fight it is to be fought here.

Entrance banner

Now that all the carbon emissions happening due to the meeting with all the flights coming in and with all the resources that are being pulled in for this annual meeting are being optimized but there's still a lot of scope.

So far, this year’s COP has been disappointing from Climate Finance perspective since so far only a few million dollars have been poured in by the emitters when what we need is billions of dollars for all the loss and damage that has already been occurred. There are a lot of ‘Ifs and Buts’ on how to fund and whom to fund...blah blah blah.

But with whatever sessions I attended and with all the work that we are doing at INECC, LAYA and Samuchit I am quite hopeful, and this COP added value to my HOPE. The work that is happening at local level has immense potential to take on the whole world without the petty finance from these historic emitters or the so-called developed nations. Nevertheless, from justice point of view it is their moral and legal responsibility to fund their fellow people on this planet. That too in the form of absolute fund and not in debt, this point was raised very clearly in one of the sessions that I attended. Climate crisis is indeed a human rights issue and it’s our right to ask for all that is lost and damaged with or without the political will. Our environment and surroundings are not dependent on us, we humans are dependent on them. Our world leaders have to realize they are on a suicidal pathway. If they don't, it's time for us to change our leaders who can turn the tide! That's where our work with engaging citizens and youth gets crucial. 

Side event on Global Goal on Adaptation by CAN 

Nevertheless, this COP also gives me HOPE, to see so many developing countries, indigenous groups and even a war struck nation like Ukraine making a point to come here on a global platform and put forth their perspective. Though some are playing a victim card, but they are here to show that we need to be heard and that is important. A lot of Adaptation and Climate Finance has already been diverted towards pandemic and wars. Hence it is important now to create an additional pool of resources for such uncertainties and fund the ones who are part of the solution ensuring to make this world a better place to live in.

Ukraine Pavillion at the COP27

Asia Pacific Youth group

I was all excited and overwhelmed with everything happening around in this meeting. Right from getting into the registration hall with all the security therein.  Then setting our booth space and meeting online friends from Asia Pacific Youth group and so on. It was so good to see all group members face to face. Seeing the energy and enthusiasm of my young fellas from Australia, Japan, Philippines, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and India gave a lot of HOPE for a better future!!!

We also had our side event, for which I was nervous for no reason. I was not on the panel, still with all the stalwarts on the panel, our side event went quite well and well in time too. Hats off to my colleagues on the panel Myron Mendes, Nakul Sharma and Martin Voss and our moderator cum opener Dr Priyadarshini Karve for a great show. It gives me a feeling of pride to be part of the team.

Our side event at the COP27 on the big screen

The best part this year’s COP events focused on local solutions and actions on ground as well. INECC’s initiative on Locally Developed Choices for Nationally determined Contributions (LDC for NDC) was first such side event to be showcased! I realized later that a lot of organizations are working on local solutions and had the same opinion as us. Thus, we were all showing solidarity in the work that is being done for making ourselves Climate resilient.   

COP27 Side events schedule

Being part of local campaigns and undertaking social media campaigns is something that I feel is required, but the way it is done matters. I am glad that I could participate in one such campaign on asking the emitter nations to ‘Pay Up 4 Loss and Damage’ at an international level organized by Climate Action Network (CAN). The best part was when a pack of Ministers passed by the whole campaign gained momentum and everyone there looked upon them for paying up to the climate crisis. There were around 500+ people there in all, young and old, supporting the campaign at that time. It was quite a scene!  

Me at the CAN campaign
Another interesting campaign by CAN was on awarding the Fossil of the Day award to entities that are doing their best at their worst like supporting fossil fuels. It’s all about holding these 'villains' responsible for their actions. There were some other campaigns such as endorsing ‘Non-Proliferation of Fossil Fuel treaty’, conserving Oceans, saving vulnerable communities, etc. Apart from this there were many interesting discussions and sessions happening at the same time in multiple pavilions, it was very difficult to decide which one to attend. How to get to that place was another exercise altogether, the overall logistic arrangement in this COP was horrible, from the chaotic shuttle service to the maps provided everywhere making no sense... but we still managed to get to places.

Campaign on Ending Fossil Fuel at COP27

With all the e-networking that I had been into since the past couple of years, I happened to meet all these people here. I met my Bangladeshi friend Zuhair from the Conference of Youth (COY) I attended in 2017, one of the mentors from my Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) coursework Raji working in Andhra Pradesh was happy to see me and know that I am working with LAYA that is situated in Vizag. Also met fellow Climate Reality member Rituraj Phukan who's doing great work on ground in Assam on Climate Education.

Face to Face meetups at the COP27

Also made new connects with groups working on similar initiatives from other South Asian countries like Bangladesh and met people from INFORSE a very active network having a consortium of developed plus developing country organizations working on sustainable energy access. Attended a session by CEEW whose work we follow at the SDG pavilion. We also met old friends of Nafisa and Dominic who have attended almost every COP and are still excited about COP and are still exploring ways to participate in the campaigns. 

INFORSE meet at their booth in COP27

The one week at COP has been very enriching for me and I am grateful for attending this one!!!

Pournima Agarkar. 

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