#COP16: Highlights And Conclusions from A Mexican Negotiations Tracker [YOUTH VOICE HIGHLIGHTED]

Posted on December 17, 2010 in Environment

By Andrea Arzaba:

COP16 is over, and we did not leave empty handed! While some news organizations have stated that COP16 was a failure, others showcased a more positive attitude.

Personally, I think that Cancun was a key to revive the negotiating process to combat climate change, which means progress.

Definitely: a long and tiring process. It was my first COP and I must say I learned a lot during these last two weeks, perhaps much more than what I could have learned immersed in books and news of the summit. I want to share some points that I consider key to understanding a little more of the final conclusions from the climate summit:

  • The creation of dialogue and networking between government, NGOs, researchers, journalists and observers was invaluable. All these different perspectives enriched the process, all voices were heard and I think mostly directed towards the path of right action.
  • No international agreement was reached to replace the Kyoto protocol in this 2012, when it ceases to be valid, but negotiators returned to run the process and the negotiations were positive. The text presented by the end of the conference mentioned the creation of a green fund to help developing countries cope with the heat and put in place a mechanism to combat deforestation.
  • Important messages to civil society: the importance of acting locally, without waiting for the delegates of each country to agree on a document. Act Locally, Think Globally.
  • Personally, to follow the steps to the delegation of Mexico made me realize the important role that took the country at this COP, and the commitment it has made to combat climate change. Moreover, its leadership hailed by almost every nation, earned them the prize “silver lining” for the transparency provided in the Cancun negotiations.

I really hope what Mexican negotiators stated will become a reality, and I’ll be tracking down these negotiators and key players, who have shown exceptional work during the past two weeks. Because it is now, after the talks when real work comes!

L to R: Christiana Figueres (Secretary of the UNFCCC) and Felipe Calderón (Mexican President)

Going back a few days and remembering my personal highlights, I would like to talk about two people that I had the opportunity to talk to, who changed my perspective on the International fight against Climate Change.

First of all, as a part of the “Adopt A Negotiator” tracking team, we had the chance to meet the secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Mrs Christiana Figueres. I must admit that she is a very nice, down to Earth woman. Born in Costa Rica, Figueres feels passionate about her homeland being affected by climate change.

There was a special moment on the chat we had where I asked her what was her motivation in combating climate change. Her answer left me speechless, as with tears in her eyes she said that the main inspiration was “us, young people”.

She explained that she felt guilty about the planet her generation is passing on to the new ones, as every day, we have more species approaching extinction and people dying because of human actions on the planet. Another great moment that will remain in my mind was when I could ask a question in the plenary directly to Mexican President: Felipe Calderon.

A snap of myself asking the question to the Mexican President, Felipe Calderon.

I was nervous at the very beginning, when he chose me to talk and ask a question in front of the negotiators and ministers at the plenary. But then, when I started speaking, everything seemed to make sense. I asked the perspective of the president on youth as activists and communicators, observers or leaders on fighting climate change at the conference. I asked if our voices had been heard.

Being able to raise my voice, and represent youth voices that had been working with or around me was very significative for me. The president mentioned the importance of having youth as an inspiration for negotiators, and as a way on supporting and helping the process.

COP16 was a great experience but I will keep on following the process after Cancun. If you would like to know more about it do not hesitate to follow me on twitter: @andrea_arzaba or read my posts at: