people really should smile more : )

Over the last few days the only things that have made me smile are people.

On tuesday, walking down just another corridor of the conference centre, I saw a Maasai Mara man coming towards me, dressed from head to toe in traditional dress, he wasn’t even wearing socks! (we are in PPPoland!) The smile it gave me on the inside found its way out into a grin, I just wish there had been 10 of him, not just this slender figure dressed in red cutting a lonely path down the corridor. This is indicative of a very prominent problem in the UN which I touched on previously, and that is equity and climate justice. Now those are both are huge subjects and I wont go into them here and now, suffice to say the UN framework is neither equitable or geared up for climate justice. A great phase that’s being used here is ïf a solution is not equitable then it is not a solution.”I could not agree more.

The second thing that day that made me grin, was another encounter with some insanely cheery Africans on the stairs. They were calling hello and waving to everyone, and I reciprocated and got a pat on the back and a really enthusiastic “hello!”back. One of them was wearing a custom made tunic and trousers, again-that looked traditional, but on closer inspections had speech bubbles saying “look after the planet” and “no more CO2!”; they livened the place up and injected some colour into this grey, grey place.

Their obvious zest for life, and seizing of opportunities (they have made the effort to come out here, knowing full well the odds are against them and proceed to be what can only be described as jubilant!), is so refreshing to see in this place of hidden truths and smoke screens of words. They are honest, they are motivated for change, and what they lack in manpower they make up for in wisdom, hope and energy to do what it takes. There have been ruminations in the International Youth group, about helping out some of these under represented countries, to try and help them attend as many things as possible, to get them food so they don’t have to leave the negotiations because they are all by themselves, and just to generally make a step in the right direction. Has anyone in the UN ever thought how completely alien this process is to indigenous and underrepresented people? If I were to turn up here by myself, I would not make head nor tail of it.  It’s only through the support system of my fellow UKYDians and other young people here, that I feel able to be effective, and also, able to cope with what is going here.

We have already had tears and frustrated conversations in the team, not aimed at each other, but at the process that we have slotted into, but that has not payed us any attention. Some of us, including me, have been questioning our actual effectiveness here for a few days now. It is not the incentive, by god we have the incentive, it’s the means. Where do you go from here when you are not being listened to and when we take them seriously enough to dress up in suites and heels all day but cant even secure an informal meeting with our environment minister? This system is not about change or dissemination of information, it seems to be that it is about doing as little as possible whilst seeming to be doing something. There is a serious leadership vacuum, and I really hope that this is where Barack Obama will slot in nicely. If not, where have we left to go?

The answer I keep telling myself in my head, is that humanity will succeed, it cannot fail to. Why do I think this after such blatant negligence on the part of most world leaders today? I think that because I am a part of a team that is so driven, so utterly humane and so truly leadership-worthy, that I cant help but think that there must be another way. I have spent a week amongst these 15  people: Casper, Guppi, Mal, Dan, Liz, Lizzie, Katie, Amy, Kirsty, Chris, Adam, Jo, Emma, Hannah and Jamie, and I would not have had it any other way. The support systems we have in place in the form of each other has been invaluable in staying sane whilst we are all at COP, and I try to begin each day thinking that I need to spend today shaping how I want it to turn out, so I can take something back to the team and make them proud. I haven’t quite achieved this so far, but I’m sure my time will come! If there’s one thing I would save right now, it’s our UKYD team.



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