Arriving in a new place by plane is always a bit of a shock – especially when it’s 50 degrees warmer than the home you left. The trudge through customs and the unknown beyond add to the excitment of first leaving the airport. The doors open and it’s a warm and somewhat chaotic world of taxis and buses, and their charismatic drivers, that line your sight. And this is only the start of the experience – maneuvering the city to find your hostel, meeting the 27 people with whom you will be working for the next two weeks, accessing the food and logistics that will keep you going, putting together the pieces of participating in the international process that is the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties (COP16). Last night, before the start of COP16 today, our delegation was finally all together at our hostel in downtown Cancun. People hid behind their laptops as they frantically squeezed in another blog, email, or tweet before our final planning meeting, while others were excitedy discussing actions, side events, and interventions. After a weekend at the Conference of Youth (COY6), we are now connected, excited and ready to join the UN process representing the voice of youth. As half the population of the planet, we have many voices to speak for, and take our role very seriously.
For me, these last few days have helped lay the groundwork for everything that is to come: from adjusting to the heat, getting a local cell phone for coordination and media work, to meeting and interacting with the other Canadian Youth Delegates, connecting with international youth through COY6, and clarifying the role I want to play while I’m here. At COY6 I was able to learn about and link with different youth delegations, and take part in planning the communications work of the youth constituency, labelled YOUNGO (as compared to NGO, or non-governmental organization). As the negotiations progress we will plan the messaging that goes out to the media and coordinate our communications. This complements the work I am doing for the Canadian Youth Delegation in helping to produce our newsletter and blog, and communicate through social media to audiences back in Canada. Today I was also able to attend part of the Climate Action Network’s strategy meeting, highlighting the major type of developments we might expect during the negotiations and how we should be responding to them. Perspective of this broader coordinated effort really provides an understanding of how many organizations are working on climate action, and for positive outcomes through the UNFCCC process.
Y de mas, beyond the blogs, accreditations, and interventions, we never quite forget that we are in Mexico. The bumpy bus ride to COY6 sessions each day, with a spontaneous sing along on the way home last night (imagine the whole bus exploding into “Wonderwall”), the glaring sun and warm evenings working on the patio, and the permeating Mexican traditions: a performance of regional dances at COY last night, the street market tonight full of crafts and sweets, tasty burritos, tacos, and quesidillas, these help to ground our actions in the reality of this place, a part of the world that has so much to gain from the success of these negotations. It’s going to be an interesting couple weeks. Please join the action by signing up for the CYD newsletter!