Day two and I can already feel the bags forming under my eyes! Not that I am complaining, the energy in Doha is electrifying and continually fuels my hopes for an agreement at the end of the conference. Today was especially exciting as I had the chance to moderate my first side event on climate change awareness raising and education. But before I tell you all about that, today was also the day that UNEP launched its comprehensive report on the policy implications of warming permafrost.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t know much about permafrost coming to the conference - it’s just not something you think or learn about outside of a science specific field of study. Also, it’s not really something I think about in sunny Nairobi! I had a chance to talk a little with Kevin Schaefer, one of the lead authors of the report before the press briefing and I must say, I am now very interested in permafrost! Kevin explained that permafrost is essentially a large store of frozen organic matter that includes carbon. If thawed and released into the atmosphere, it would amplify current global warming levels with severe effects on ecosystems and infrastructure. Warming permafrost could emit up to 135 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide – which could ultimately account for 39 percent of global emissions! Like I said earlier, I am now very interested in permafrost! In addition to a call for a special IPCC assessment on permafrost, the report also recommends the creation of national monitoring networks and adaptation plans as key steps to deal with the potential impacts on global warming.
With the morning sessions concluded, I assembled a team of young people attending the conference to hit the cyber streets of Twitter and try and get as many people as possible involved in our session. It is always a winner when you have the enthusiastic youth from WAGGGS on board. With over 10,000,000 people within their network, we soon had more questions and comments coming in then we could have hoped for! The event really was a huge success. Our panel was the most gender - balanced panel I have seen thus far at the entire COP! Furthermore, it represented the importance of integration between different stakeholders by being a completely inter-agency led event.
It was important that our session was not only interactive, but also action oriented so we decided to develop some recommendations that could translate into tangible actions. Not only did the panel give some stellar presentations surrounding the best ways to engage young people through climate change education, but they also challenged the audience to think of ways to be more informed and prepared for a green economy. Ultimately, to achieve development that is economically viable, environmentally sustainable and socially equitable, we need more than technical fixes. We need to change the way people think and act and education is a great tool for doing that. Educational curriculum will need to shift to meet the needs of a generation that is transitioning to a low carbon economy and our discussion largely tackled what this curriculum could look like.
One thing that the panel made clear was the fact that young people have the capacity to innovate, educate and lead through this transition period. However, what is lacking is support from the older generation. As a recommendation, we established that this support can be garnered through integrated partnerships, participatory research and development and a more significant influence over policy.
All in all it was a successful session and we hope to lobby our recommendations to our government representatives.
As I sign out for the day, please feel free to tweet me your questions, concerns or any statements you would like shouted at the COP… @dizzeeyvo
You can call me optimistic Yvonne from now on, after all, at such a crucial time in our planet’s history – is there any other way to be?