Thursday, December 17, 2009

COP15: Wrap up Day

NGOs have limited admittance to the Bella Center as of Tuesday, and today very few NGO participants were able to access the Conference venue. Instead, we were productive at the Scout Center compiling details from our experiences and following the negotiations carefully with a live stream. We took turns writing careful summaries from the speeches by different countries’ heads of state and high level politicians. Gabi says “We were impressed that Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress, emphasized the importance of support for women as a vulnerable group affected by climate change.”

We worked at several stations this morning to record our partnerships, media highlights, and to compile our photographs and videos. Margrethe enjoyed working with the media for WAGGGS. She searched for articles, interviews, and photos of our delegation on the Internet. She was especially excited about the photo that she found about Abby holding two koalas!

We also learned about Advocacy for WAGGGS and brainstormed ideas for international climate change programming for girls and young women. Among the top ideas were to focus on mitigation and adaptation. We talked about having several badges for different environmental resources such as water, sun, and air. It is also important to us that the environmental program material is accessible in different languages, affordable, and fun for girls.

Tonight we all celebrated our hard work the last two weeks with a delicious Danish dinner at a restaurant. Miriam says “It was really nice to bond with everyone over dinner.”

We will continue to reflect on our experiences at COP15, finish our project summaries and COP15 reports, and strategize plans of action of how to engage our fellow Girl Guides, Girl Scouts, and communities in our own countries on climate change issues.

Yours Truly in Guiding and Scouting,
Sarah, Maria, and Emily

COP: Day 10

Today was certainly a very interesting day for us in Copenhagen. There was success, surprise, and frustration.

There was a planned (and unapproved) protest (which will be explained later) that took place in and around the Bella Center this morning. There were hundreds of Danish police and police vehicles surrounding the center. Again, the train station was closed, so we had to walk to the center from the stop either before or after the center itself.

In the morning Emily attended the YOUNGO spokescouncil meeting, which took place outside of the Bella Center under a pond! They weren't imitating the Maldives government ( there was a dry (but moldy) room. The spokescouncil discussed the approval of future actions as well as who should attend the actual COP15 sessions this Friday (the one ticket that YOUNGO has is going to a youth from Latin America).

Later that day Emily went to Klimaforum in the city and attended a panel discussion on solar energy. She also interviewed several women about the issue of gender and the environment.

Sarah spent the day inside the Bella Center. She was involved with the WAGGGS side event in which WAGGGS delegates explained their projects from home and informed the public about issues of women, youth and the environment.
After that, Sarah joined other WAGGGS delegates for our action, in which we sang an environmental version of the campfire song, "One Voice". We caught the attention of many people and politicians!

Maria had the intention of entering the Bella Center around noon by exchanging a pass with a WAGGGS delegate who was leaving the center at that time. It happened at that time, about one hundred protesters left the center and met several hundred other protesters outside the center (and the police lines). Entry for all NGOs was immediately cut off, and Maria was left outside the center (safely but cold) to watch all the police-protester action going on outside. She tried to reason several times with the police in a three hour period, but eventually left when it was really very clear that no more NGOs could enter.

The protesters were protesting the limited access of "civil society" and NGOs allowed to enter the conference.

Overall, a different day for all of us. Tomorrow will be a very different pace from the rest of this conference, as we will be watching the negotiations from an online broadcast.

Goodbye, Bella Center!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

COP: Day 9

The level of security at the Bella Center is high. There is overcrowding outside the Bella Center, so the metro stop at the Center is closed. Thousands, including myself, walked to the Center from a nearby metro station. Today, Emily attended the Bella Center on behalf of the Americans with WAGGGS. Maria spent the day working on finals for university and recovering from sickness. Sarah explored some of the many talks in town and made some valuable contacts with other organizations, and was even treated to coffee!!

This morning, Emily got a special pass to attend a session with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California. He said that an international agreement is not all that is needed to make progress in the climate change movement. He recognized that governments, with the cooperation of cities, states, provinces, regions, corporations, activists, scientists, and universities are part of the movement towards a cleaner future. Change and progress require people to work together and take action. He challenges people, nations, and cities to lead by example in the climate change movement.

Today only 7,000 NGO accredited participants were allowed to enter the Bella Center, compared to about 15,000 that have been attending the conference daily. WAGGGS can only have 11 accredited individuals inside the Bella Center, but we are thankful to WOSM for sharing some of their extra badges with us today. Still, not all of the WAGGGS delegation was able to come to the Bella Center today.

Emily attended US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack’s presentation this afternoon. Last week, the afternoon presentation by Secretaries of State had a strong youth presence, but today, she was surrounded by party members and accomplished NGO participants. Vilsack announced an agreement between the USDA and US dairy producers to use manure for energy projects on farms. This will help curb CO2 emissions on farms.

This morning, the Gender YOUNGO group met, and we are in the process of finalizing our policy recommendations and policy summaries that we will hand-distribute to negotiators this afternoon and tomorrow. Emily met with Barbara De Rosa-Joynt, who is the Multilateral Initiatives Coordinator of the US State Department. Barbara is a former GIRL SCOUT and is doing an awesome job representing the US.

Emily also attended the US Delegation Briefing with Jonathan Perhing in the evening.

Yours in Guiding and Scouting,
Maria, Sarah, and Emily

COP15: Day 8

Today we focused on women and climate change at COP15. We began the day by finalizing the language for Heads of State and delegations in regards to youth in the text. This working group is a sub-policy working group in YOUNGO that we have been working with for the past week. In addition to youth in the text, we address girls and young women in our policy recommendations.

Next, several members of our delegation attended the Women’s Caucus. After recapping the events of the weekend, we discussed the language for speaking to others about women’s issues. We spoke up about the importance of including “girls and young women” in the text. Our message was challenged by different opinions, but it was nonetheless a good conversation.

Next, we participated in the newly formed Gender YOUNGO group with many of my WAGGGS and YOUNGO colleagues as well as a group of women from South Africa that we met at the Women’s Caucus. We will work very hard over the next few days to provide policy draft recommendations for negotiators.

In the afternoon, Emily and Sarah attended a session by the Secretary of Energy, Mr. Stephen Chu. He spoke about the importance of standards to drive energy efficiency.

Emily spent the remainder of the afternoon at the “Women for Climate Justice” session. Four panelists from large NGOs including CARE, Oxfam, and the Asian Development Bank spoke about their programs and their focus on women. We learned that indoor smoke is the 4th killer of women and children in the developing world. 80% of African food is produced by women, and globally, women make up the majority of the agriculture sector. The discussions focused around the mantra, “No climate justice without gender justice.” Women are agents of change and need to be educated, empowered, and part of decision-making processes.

In the evening, we attended the daily US Youth meeting and then drafted a letter for the US negotiators on capacity building. We attached a draft proposed by Switzerland to our letter and brought it to the US Delegation office. It was exciting to meet members of the US Party at the office.

Yours in Guiding and Scouting,
Sarah, Maria, and Emily

Monday, December 14, 2009

COP15 Weekend: Dec. 12-13

It was nice to try to catch up on some sleep this weekend, although the days were still filled with some fun and important events.

For most of Saturday Maria and Sarah, along with some other WAGGGS delegates, took part in the Flood Copenhagen march with thousands of other climate activists to express Girl Scout's role in the climate change solution and show that we are a progressive organization focused on empowering women worldwide.

We rested for the evening, getting ready for our big day on Sunday: meeting the Princess of Denmark! Princess Benedikte is a long time supporter of Scouts and Guides, and we were all excited to get the chance to meet her. Sarah, Emily, and Luiza--our Brazilian sister funded by GSUSA--posed for a photo with the princess.

Sarah went to the Bright Green exhibition, to learn about all the innovative businesses that are promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Some spent the rest of the day shopping, some recovering from sickness, and everyone planning for the week to come.

Wish us luck in all of our upcoming events!

G.S. love,
Sarah, Maria, and Emily

Day 5: 10-12-09

The morning opened with the presentation of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) draft agreement, which calls for inclusion of small island states in political text to ensure their survival. It is extremely important for the small island nations to be considered since many--such as Maldives--rest only one or more meters above sea level and are especially susceptable to climate change.

Another exciting event was when the Australian delegates--Ally, Petina, Nellie, Aby, and Linden--plus Katie and Rebecca met Tim Flannery, a world renowned Australian climate change scientist and the head of the Copenhagen Climate Council. He was also a panelist at a side event in which four youth who presented projects involving youth in the environment from their home countries, followed by a panel discussion about the projects.

Later, Emily and Sarah sat in on a U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke’s, side-event discussion on energy security, energy efficiency, and green jobs. As Locke eloquently stated, "The climate change challenge is relatively simple. We can make changes now, or we will have to make changes later."

In the late afternoon, several WAGGGS delegates took part with other youth organizations in a "freeze action" – where everyone mingled in the main space outside the plenary and froze what they were doing simultaneously. It was a spooky scene of youth delegates frozen in mid-action: drinking from their water bottles, adjusting their hair, taking a step, talking to a friend or on the phone, etc.). Meanwhile, some stood on a raised platform holding signs that read, "Don't freeze the deal" -- meaning that we want negotiations to continue over creating a fair, ambitious, and binding climate change agreement.

Ostara had another photo opportunity with the Nobel Peace Prize recipient and Green Belt Movement Founder Wangari Maathai!

Luiza and Emily participated in a panel discussion about Girl Scout/Guide projects in their home countries, following a film about "Young Voices in the Climate Change Movement".

Some of our delegates also supported our sibling organisation, the World Organisation of Scouting Movement (WOSM), as they presented with UNICEF/Unite4Climate.
The last major event was the YOUNGO (Youth NGO) reception in the evening. WAGGGS opened the event by singing "One Voice" -- a simple yet inspiring song to show solidarity in the youth climate movement:
That's all for today--keep checking throughout the week for daily updates!
Yours in Scouting,
Sarah, Emily, and Maria

Sunday, December 13, 2009

COP15: Day 4

Here is a blog written by Emily about her exciting day at COP15!

The two highlights of my day occurred within the one hour timeframe of US Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar’s, presentation. First, I was photographed by the Associated Press (AP) just before the start of his presentation. Since the news and photos by the AP are published by newspapers all over the world, my picture can now be found in many different news sources all over the world! It is a pretty intense photo of me writing notes from Maria’s laptop, but it is great nonetheless. After Ken Salazar’s presentation, I was chosen to ask him the second question! I asked about how the Department of the Interior is engaging in the legislative process to ensure that a bold, science-based policy passes through the US Senate. I introduced myself, spoke well, and was very proud of myself! Ken Salazar then used my name twice in his response which was really exciting!

This is a link to my photo in the AP:

Sarah, Miriam, and Linden were interviewed today by Climate Change TV.

Today was “Youth and Future Generations Day.” All of the youth wore bright orange t-shirts. It was great to be so united with all of the other youth at the conference.

This evening, I met with all of the US youth, and we learned about the legal rights of presidents to sign treaties. Afterwards, I attended a special event for the Chinese and American youth. It was great to have dinner with the Chinese youth. We shared our stories and broke cultural barriers in the hopes that our governments will one day collaborate and understand one another better.

Yours Truly in Guiding and Scouting,

Emily, Maria, and Sarah