After an exciting week of reading up and getting ready for the Climate talks being held in Durban, South Africa. I am finally here to a land where Gandhiji began his initial fight for freedom. It gave me some inspiration about the kind of fight, we youth were participating in – to make this world sustainable. Our work reflects “Satyagraha” – or peaceful protest, analysis, advocacy and that is exactly how we work. We have patiently learnt, engaged, and inspired the masses with the nuances of the issue and policy implication of Climate change and climate talks. Another very important reflection I had was of his principle of Swadeshi – which is reflected in our grassroots actions. Seven champions from around the world – Indian, Greece, Vietnam, Italy and South Africa gave a presentation at the Conference of youth (COY) , which is a preparatory three day youth event leading to the climate change talks under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The climate champions spoke about their respective projects and how to build a grassroot project and integration of our work under the aegis of – British Council. We were a diverse group of people not only in terms of nationality but also in terms of our projects. We conveniently integrated our message under trust, support and unity towards making this world a more beautiful and sustainable.
The President of the Conference of Parties hosted a fantastic welcome reception for the attendants of the negotiations. Five of the champions attended the reception which was filled with good food, drinks and welcoming South African music and dance. Quite a grand welcome! We met, Dr. R.K.Pachauri , who congratulated each of the champions on the fantastic work being done back home and that negotiations were just a political excuse and that we champions and grassroots work were the real “champions” of the Climate and people trying to save the climate.
The British Council climate booth in the Workshop area is also attracting a lot of people interested in knowing about our work and the message British Council gives. The postcards from around the world, giving a message of sustainability is particularly giving a colorful aura to the booth.
The champions also went to schools in Durban and gave various workshops on climate change, ideas for projects and a small preview of policy talks. The children were very excited and wanted to know more about how they could participate in greening the world. Thus the journey of educating and engaging began.
Talking of journey, another incredible initiative by the South African government which was supported by British Council in South Africa was the Climate Train which passed the entire length of the country through its rural areas, promoting awareness of climate change and also initiated tree plantation and waste management projects. The champions welcomed the train to the Durban station which was attended by the Mayor of Durban, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC and other dignitaries.
It’s been a busy first few days of the Durban talks and journey as climate ambassadors and when people ask about what we do, we say “ Inspire, Engage, Educate” indeed.
This is the message from us champions to the people and the UN climate talks!
Priti is a young environmental policy and negotiation enthusiast from India with a plethora of experience in climate adaptation in Bangladesh, climate finance, Flexible mechanisms and low carbon transportation modelling. In her spare time she likes to make funny faces in fogged mirrors.