I happened to check my email; Wasn’t that amazing ?
It was the day of 12th November, 2019, when we were having intense discussion on finalizing the panelist for our Pre- COP discussion entitled, “Story of Climate to Madrid”. Then, for some reason I happened to check my email. There was a new email from “Youth4NDC” team and that changed everything. Yes, I was selected as one of the recipient for the Youth Climate Scholarship among 14 scholars in the pool of 20, 000 applicants. Wasn’t that amazing? Under this, I was able to make my long-awaited dream participation in the 15th Conference of Youth and 25th Conference of Parties to the UNFCCC.
COP 25 was a very beautiful and yet very different experience for me. Working in Climate Change and Environment for 4 years, I have developed a strong passion for this urgency. I also got to attend the 15th Global Conference of Youth (COY). I was representing my country Nepal, among 85 different countries and 400 youth there. In COY, the energy of every youth was commendable.
We were practicing to fit ourselves in the intense negotiations and events for COP. Sharing the working practices, achieved transformations and the challenges we face being a youth activist provided us the Energy Tonic to survive for the next 14 days of COP and the coming years to save the Planet.
A day- routine of COP:
The day used to start from 8 am in the morning. And believe me, Spain did not used to wake up even at 8 am, because outside it was dark like 5 am in the early morning. Maybe, it was due to the chilling wind and cold of December. After having breakfast, we used to mark our way towards IFEMA, COP venue. The 1st session we were supposed to attend was the YOUNGO briefing at 9 am. YOUNGO is the official Children and youth Constituency under the UN. Then, I used to follow if there were negotiations on negotiation topics like Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), Common Time Frame, Loss and Damage, Climate Finance.
Though, I was restricted from attending close negotiations because I had a badge of Observer not of party. Other than that high level events and other studio events used to fill our day. Working under the NDC Enhancement Group was fun though. I got a free space to hear from different youth’s perspective. Also, the day would have been marked incomplete without getting lost for an hour and disappointment amid the day. One thing, I felt bad was the poor internet, that used to decrease the efficiency of day and sometimes filled me with bundle of sadness. The day used to get over at around 8 in the night. Then, creating some memories in the metro or in the city was fun. Though, the fiercely blowing cold wind was often arrogant on us, we used to manage some days to enter the city of light. Also, being a scholar we had responsibilities to fulfill, staying on that term we used to work on late-night presentation and updating daily google sheets.
Where was I amid?
I participated in several high level events, side events and action programs, observed the negotiations and organized dialogue events and presented interventions. Negotiations on specific topics like Loss and Damage, Adaptation, Climate Finance etc takes place inside a closed hall where the observer does not get to speak. In rare high level events, we youth were provided space to present the intervention, on which we used to give constructive suggestions and with it, provide some options in response to it.
Worth to mention, I spoke on the opportunities in NDCs on a program organized by my own Youth4NDC team. We also organized a webinar on sharing of COY. I got to host a Youth Briefing with Hon. Patricia Espinoza, UN Executive Secretary of climate change. I presented on behalf of the NDC working group on the 1st week of press conference organized by YOUNGO and also spoke about the youth engagement on the press conference together with the High level delegates of Nepal.
During the same time, we were also having virtual sharing of COP from Madrid to Nepal. We, Youth for NDC team submitted our Publication "Mainstreaming Youth Priorities in NDCs, a publication to government" to different high level persons along with UN President of the General Assembly (PGA). I gave the intervention on behalf of all youth and youth organizations, on the closing plenary of COP. Me and Zuzzana from Poland expressed all of our dissatisfaction of COP 25 and what we expect in upcoming intersessionals and COPs too.
Kicked off from COP
I was also one who was kicked off from the venue on Dec 11 because of participating unintentionally in a protest led by indigenous people. There could be no better symbol of the crisis we face than that protest. Being on foreign land far from country, at 1st I couldn’t think of anything else. But slowly things got calmer. That day they didn’t let any observer to enter the venue again. But thankfully, next day they allowed us to enter.
Dissatisfaction and ray of hope
At COP25, countries agreed on few issues and were unable to agree on several issues. Many people expressed their frustration with COP25 outcomes. There is still a gap between what countries pledged to do and what scientists say is needed to avert climate catastrophe. It is worrisome that COP25, which was meant to prepare the way for implementation of the Paris Agreement post-2020, did not make much progress. Nevertheless, states should take the period prior to COP26 as an opportunity to renew their commitments and appropriately plans for climate action. COP26 is expected to initiate the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
Thanks to all people who accompanied me in every step, filled me with much inspiration and power for more actions. I will be replicating the learning I was blessed with. Back home, we already organized two sharing programs on COP and we will do more. Now, also we are working to have a youth consultation in seven provinces.
One thing I took from COP is "There are no overnight transitions nor silver bullet solutions on the emergency we are facing now. But we need to continue with all hope and belief. Together, we can!"
May 2020 be a year of transformation for people and the planet!