First few days in Durban
By James Hutt
Several of us arrived in Durban on Monday afternoon. We touched down and with our luggage on our laps, six of us piled in a cab and headed to our hostel. There we met 3 others from the Canadian Youth Delegation that had arrived the day before. Over the next couple days, all 18 of us will arrive at varying times and try to get settled in before things get hectic. So far, we’ve been dealing with logistics; setting up local phones, purchasing groceries and trying to figure out a reliable means of accessing the internet. We’ve also met some local activists and attended a planning session for a few different actions that will take place outside COP17.
Once everyone is here, we will be sharing our hostel with the UK and New Zealand youth delegations. Like us, most have arrived sporadically. Until then though, it’s an interesting mix of youth delegates and backpackers. That means you have tourists blasting music, dancing and coming back late after nights of clubbing, living side by side with delegates writing blogs, finishing papers for university, and scheduling meetings and interviews. Days start early here, with the sun rising well before 5am. The jet lag hasn’t been too bad, although it might be why I know when the sun comes up. Fortunately, we’ve got a few days to sort everything out and hopefully get into regular sleeping habits.
On Thursday, we have our strategizing retreat to plan out what we will be doing and how we can be most effective during the negotiations. The three teams of the CYD – Actions & Strategy, Policy, and Media – will come together to finalize key events, outreach methods, messaging, and tactics we will be using to represent youth and pressure negotiators to commit to ambitious and binding emissions targets. We will also launch Operation Oil Change a grassroots campaign to convince our government to stop negotiating on behalf of the fossil fuel industry and to start putting people before profits. To that, we need your help to put pressure on our leaders at home too. Click here to see simple ways that you can make difference and contact with other passionate supporters.
On Friday, the Conference of Youth begins. For three days, youth delegations and civil society from around the world will meet to discuss the role of youth at the negotiations, while sharing skills and collaborating around concrete plans to make sure that the voices of youth are heard. We all know which countries will try to obstruct progress (I have to get that flag off my backpack), and the usual economy vs. environment rhetoric. As youth though we know too well that this is nothing but smoke and mirrors and what it ultimately comes down to is justice. Our futures are on the line and a failure to act responsibly now and protect them can only be seen an injustice against our generation.
On Monday, the 17th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change begins. Almost all of the countries in the UN will send their lead negotiators or teams of negotiators. If recent history offers any insight, COP17 will involve a lot of back room dealing, power struggles, and hollow promises. However, all of us remain hopeful that the collective need to act will overcome petty differences. We will be sending out daily newsletters, podcasts, and blogs. To sign up for them, click here. You can also submit questions for us to ask Canada’s negotiators and learn more about the UNFCCC on our site: www.cjd-djc.org .