A bit on the side

December 5th, 2008

As the talks are now well underway, the wealth of extra-curricular events at this year’s conference deserves a mention. From low carbon technologies to high sea level predictions, the side events dotted around the site cover the spectrum of climate-related topics in a gruelling schedule running from nine in the morning to nine at night. To go to them all would make you a climate expert, albeit one with a migraine.

Probably best I just select a few highlights then. On Tuesday evening, Practical Action and Tearfund held their side event, ‘From Vulnerability to Resistance’, for a capacity crowd of nearly one hundred. The room was crammed to hear Gehendra Gurung from Practical Action Nepal speak about how our projects incorporate disaster risk reduction into community-based adaptation. This prompted a constructive debate in which an official from the UN Secretariat asked a question regarding our work.

Fittingly, there are a lot of side events preparing us for the year leading up to a deal in Copenhagen and, from the ones I have attended, there is a real sense that 2009’s campaign will roll straight out of Poznan. The next twelve months will require massive participation, which is why it was inspiring to visit an International Youth Delegation presentation. A lot of suggestions at this side event were met with whoops and cheers, but none more than for a Kenyan man who announced that he was planning to organise a youth delegation for the only continent not represented by the scheme – Africa.

What is evident is that from now on climate change will not be a side event – it will be the event. In the short term it will be about pushing forward for a strong Copenhagen deal, but from now, and way beyond this, it is about scaling up our efforts in making sure those vulnerable people already dealing with climate change have the capability to tackle the dangers they face.

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