The COP meetings are not only comprised of statements by heads of states and negotiations with delegates pertaining to the agreement text, but also contain many side events and presentations by the different nations, non-government organizations (NGO’s), and civil society observers. Over the past two days, I have been able to attend talks, presentations, and meetings with all three of the groups mentioned above. These have been about a wide variety of topics, including climate impacts on indigenous peoples, climate change and biodiversity in the Amazon, research on ice sheet melting in Antarctica, climate change induced migration research, and meetings with YOUNGO’s (Youth Non-Government Organization) and RINGO’s (Research and Independent Non-Government Organizations).
The different presentations attract a diverse range of individuals and groups. At the Climate Impacts on Indigenous People in Amazon and Canada talk I attended on 11/30, there were multiple representatives of first people nations, a group of Chinese civil society observers, and several young Americans and Europeans. This shows that depending on the topic being addressed, people that are not even affected or personally attached to the discussion attend to learn more or understand what is being discussed.
Today I attended two meetings, one with YOUNGO’s and one with RINGO’s. I had two very different reactions from the meetings. The YOUNGO’s meeting was very confusing, which might have been because I had never attended one of their meetings before. They did not have a brief introduction of what their organization did or why they were here at COP 21, but launched right into their agenda about elections (but did not say what for) and there was a debate about if there should be another meeting to discuss restructuring the organization because someone spoke but they were not a designated spokesperson (apparently if you are not elected as a spokesperson you cannot talk at the meeting, but they did not explain this at the beginning). It was very confusing being brand new to this conference and for attending the first meeting.
Once I left this meeting very confused, I went to the RINGO’s meeting. This was a lot better in terms of organization and clarity. The head of the organization explained what they are about and why they are involved in the UN Climate Summits, explained how COP 21 is structured and offered advice on how to navigate the venue, and also had everyone go around the room and introduce who they were. This was a great meeting and eased my confusion a little bit about navigating COP 21 (there are so many different events and talks occurring while booths and exhibits are constantly set up). There is so much to choose from it can sometimes be overwhelming!
Today was another amazing day in Paris and I got to meet and listen to people from all over the world, and attend presentations by important researchers and scholars who are influencing and providing information to the delegates for the negotiations about many different topics. Tomorrow should be even better as the negotiations continue and I learn more about how climate change is affecting the world.