In Durban…

Its been a rare privilege and great learning experience. I have been involved in various activities all over Durban, some have been such a great experience where I met key people.
On 25th at the opening session of COY7, I conducted a workshop on “Building Grassroots Groups”.  I spoke about my experience with starting up an organization. I was grateful that people really appreciated my talk, and asked me to present the again on the following day (26th) at COY. I presented again to a much bigger and a much diverse audience and went into details using my own experience and some that I had gained from the workshop in  Bangalore. I used stories of Climate Champions in India to motivate them to fight for their cause. The event was received with much warmth and appreciation and I was humbled  by their kind words.
On the 27th, we went on the Climate Train. The much anticipated event saw the Executive Secretary Ms Figueres, Ms June Joseph-Langa, CEO of Indalho Yethu (SA’s main Environmental Agency) and the Mayor of Durban. I interacted with Ms. June and she invited me to hold a workshop for young South African kids aboard the Climate Train!. It was a great honour indeed and I will be conducting them next week.
On 28th, I attended the session chaired by Dr, RK Pachauri, Director of TERI. The session focused on “Response of Indian States to Climate Change: Development of State  Action Plans against Climate Change. I asked Mr. Pachauri the following question: ”Thank you for the opportunity Sir. My name is Saket, I am the British Council’s Climate C hampion from India. I have been keenly following the development of State Action Plans on Climate Change. How in you’re opinion can young people take part in development and implementation of such policies?”  I later managed a photo with him as well!.
Climate Champions and the Climate Caravan were hosted for a business leaders dinner on 28th night. I met up with British Council representatives, Mr. Sundru Pillay, the project manager of the Climate Train, Mayor of Durban and several other key partners of the British Council in South Africa.  Mr. Pillay (who is also the President of Lions International) invited me to deliver a guest speech at the Annual meeting of Lions Clubs International (South Africa) to be hosted aboard the Climate Train on December 2, 2011.
I spent a day on 29th, doing workshops with school children in Durban. Kids had come in from all over Durban. It was very delightful experience seeing  how seriously going green is being taken in Durban :) Nguyet from Veitnam and I conducted a quiz where we divided them into groups name Methane, Carbon Dioxide and Carbon Monoxide and asked them to draw their sources. The other team then had to guess. Following this, was a short quiz designed to raise awareness about the intricacies of Climate Change. We planted a sapling with them as well!.
I was invited to a dinner marking the launch of WWF’s book on “Towards a Greener Economy” in association with NedBank on 29th evening. The exclusive event saw a panel discussion chaired by the CEO of WWF, CEO of Nedbank and a prominent ecologist. The session focused on major challenges faced by the world current economy and how we can achieve 100% renewable energy by 2050. Amongst several notable people I met was Mr. John Smith, one of the negotiators with UK delegation and the Director of Climate Change Initiative of the British High Commision of SA. He was keenly interested in my project and encouraged me to continue my endeavor. We discussed about India’s stance and the future of Kyoto Protocol.
On 30th, I was invited by the Manager of eThikwini Municipality to be a part of the Climate Change Learning Exchange which had representatives from 13 different countries like Germany, France, China, Ghana, Somalia, Norway, Taiwan etc. And I was also the youngest member there! The event was attended by several government representatives with a panel discussion on “Climate Change Adaptation”. It was perhaps one of the most amazing experiences at COP17. We were doing case studies and then building strategies to solve the key challenges highlighted by the case study. It was such a learning experience solving key problems along with policy makers from around the world. On the sidelines, I met with the Deputy Director of French National Bank, and discussed the future of Carbon Markets.
On 1st, I was invited by Ms. June Josephs-Langa, CEO of Indalho-Yethu to attend a breakfast meeting marking the launch South Africa Youth Chapter on Climate Change. The meeting was attended by representatives from various organisations from all across Africa. The afternoon was followed by the Webex session with Christiana Figueres  I attended with other champions. I met with the team of official Indian negotiators in their country office as well.  In the evening I was invited to attend a Gala dinner hosted by Ms. Maneka Gandhi and the Director of the movie 11th hour. The theme was “Going Vegetarian”. The event was attended by Government negotiating team from India, and several other key people. I was interviewed by the media present there, who wanted me to talk about my work on Climate Change. Executive Director of EmpowermentWorks (an international NGO)  was very appreciative of my work, and was very keen on collaborating with my project!
Saket is at Durban attending COP17 as part of the British Council delegation.

Saket Dave, International Climate Champion, India


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