In November 2016 , I travelled to the UN Climate Talks – known as COP22 – held in Marrakech, Morocco, as a member of the Aotearoa Youth Leadership Institute’s delegation.
The opportunity allowed me to experience the United Nations first-hand, to witness the process of high-level negotiations between states, and to meet with others from all corners of the globe who are taking action to mitigate the impacts of climate change, some of which our Pacific neighbors are already experiencing.
COP22 officially stands for the 22nd Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). This summit also facilitated the 12th Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol (CMP12), and the 1st Meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement (CMA1). I know what you are thinking – there are a lot of acronyms! And many more join those listed above, which made preparing for the conference a steep learning curve, and a seemingly impossible task to memorise and remember how these all relate to each other.
The conference itself had two main streams of activities occurring at the same time. While negotiations between countries on policy matters concerning Climate Finance, Mitigation, Technology and Adaptation took place, running co-currently were side-events. These side-events could best be described as standard conference sessions with panels and speakers who presented and facilitated discussions on issues surrounding Climate Change.
If I was to single out the most consequential aspect of my experience, it was meeting people whose communities are on the front line of climate change. While the entire experience of being immersed as an observer of international negotiations was more valuable than I ever anticipated, hearing these stories really brought home the urgency for action. From delegates representing the Sami Council from Norway and Sweden who are witnessing ice melt and rising temperatures in the Arctic, to our Pacific neighbours, including delegates from the Marshall Islands whose home is only two meters above sea level at its highest point.
The learning that I have taken away from this experience has been immense, and will now be intrinsically linked in both my professional and personal life going forward. I wholeheartedly thank QUT Business School and the Australian Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies for their support. Looking forward to 2017, I am excited at the prospect of implementing the knowledge gained, and building on these new global networks in the year ahead.