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

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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:

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  1. Sameera Joshi via Facebook

    Yes! Its all started, the recent climate change is only the result of all our explotation over the Planet for all these years! But we need to compensate atleast to extend our stay on this planet for the generations to come! We need to take thoughtfull actions to conserve energy & the planet! Lets Go green! Check this:

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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