A weekend in Cancun

December 7th, 2010

Here at the UN climate conference, the negotiations continued on Saturday with some open and other closed sessions. But I had other work, representing Practical Action at several events, and welcomed a break from the long bus rides and dreary conference venue, and the awful plastic food! On Saturday morning I had a leisurely start – with a meeting at 10, just 10 minutes walk along the beach at another hotel. This meeting was about support for community groups to get together and present their expert knowledge on preparation for disasters in international conferences. Practical Action is committed to supporting local groups to get together to be a stronger voice. The majority of the people at the meeting were from local groups, many from Guatemala, also from Mexico and Peru – a good chance to listen to Spanish, and speak a little.

I left to reach a conference on Agriculture and Rural Development Day at another hotel a few kms up the beach road. Here there was a panel discussion on supporting small farmers to scale up effective agricultural practices to help adapt to climate change and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. In contrast to the previous event, there was no representation on the panel from either NGOs or farmers groups! And questions and comments after the presentations showed the strong feelings from the audience on this matter. Then I had lunch, while being interviewed by a consultant on Practical Action’s views on using the carbon market to support certain farming practices. (We don’t think that will really benefit small scale farmers). Then I rushed off to another conference at another seaside hotel (no time to get to the beach though!) This was about development and climate, run by the International Institute for Environment and Development. Here I met up with Practical Action colleagues from Kenya, Nepal, Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka who are also here in Cancun as well as many friends in development. Two of our colleagues presented at this event on our work. After an interesting afternoon session, back to the hotel to catch up by email from what has been happening in the negotiations: some new proposed text, ministers arriving, negotiations still going on… but this is our one night off, and there’s a party at a local night club just for the conference participants – so off by bus to that!

On Sunday I returned with colleagues to the IIED conference, where Practical Action staff sat together over coffee to brainstorm on what our future work on climate change should focus on, before joining a session on adaptation. After lunch, off to a 4 hour meeting with NGO colleagues in Climate Action Network to discuss progress this last week, and how we can work this week to try to influence progress in this very complex process. A quick visit to a reception to network with people (soft drinks only!) before dinner, emails and an early night.

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