Monday, 7 December 2009

Cloud nine: On track

The team travelling home from the Forum, but only beginning their new journeys as Climate Ambassadors.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

The children’s Climate Forum has been an apex of passion, commitment and inspiration. Sitting here on the train from Copenhagen to Cologne I feel so enormously privileged. Despite my tiredness I feel high on the euphoria of being part of something so fantastic that has given the world’s children an opportunity to voice their concerns about an issue that all too often jeopardises our basic rights. To hear my newfound friends at the Forum saying, ‘we can’t go to school when the rain is very heavy', has further motivated me and has exemplified how climate change induced disasters deny our fellow citizens the right to education, health and happiness. It has been reassuring to know that I am not alone in my quest to 'right' these wrongs and together, as one, we can be a tide of change, with today being the day of the wave march in London.

Some of the delegates at the Forum after a brilliant week of working together.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

The last two days of the Forum have been greater than ever with yet more fantastic workshops, where I created my very own silicon solar panel! And even used it to power a cutting edge cardboard buggy. Understanding such technology will play a key role in the Primary School workshops I will continue to run. Within my political and advocacy group the incredible opportunity of hosting a question and answer session with both the Chinese and Moldavian negotiators arose, for which I was elected co-chairperson. Unfortunately, the Chinese pulled out at the last minute and we were left with a redundant script and pre-prepared questions, compounded by the fact that the Moldivian negotiator was over twenty minutes late. Improvisation was the order to the day and in the true spirit of the Forum we rose up in the face of adversity and unanimously gained a greater understanding of how the negotiations will run at COP 15.

Cressie and others listen intently to the negotiator from the Maldives, as he discusses the reality of sealing a deal at the UN Climate Summit.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

The closing ceremony was as marvellous as the rest of the forum with our song ‘ It’s my world’ and the wondrous Alien Beat Club and the climax of handing over our manifesto to the Chair of the COP 15 negotiations. The highlight of the forum for me was when I was asked to attend the press conference, after the closing ceremony. I was nervous but determined to do justice to so many articulate participants and to communicate how Climate Change is as much of a moral issue as an ecological one.

Climate Ambassadors hand over a copy of the declaration to Connie Hedegaard, President of the COP15, at the closing ceremony of the Children's Climate Forum. UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

The closing party was a great opportunity to let our hair down and for me learn to dance the American way- more lessons are definitely required though! Regardless of language, everyone can communicate through dance and I strongly advocate the world leaders try it!

A delegate from Kirabati shows off some spectacular dance moves at the party!
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

On the last day we were also given our buddy Country, for which ours was Vietnam, a country that has been hard hit by global warming. I am determined to capitalise on such international links to launch an education programme and my, ‘Don’t Bake the Planet’ Campaign.

The Vietnamese and British Climate Ambassadors discuss how they can work together going into the future.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

Finally, our trip to Tivoli gardens was an array of festivity as fairy lights danced in the trees, making the skyline a wonder wall of colour and creating a truly magical experience. It was all FAB; my only hope is that COP15 shall be equally fabulous with a fair, ambitious and binding deal being reached.

The British and American Climate Ambassadors enjoy an incredibly Christmassy trip to Tivoli Gardens on their last day in Copenhagen.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

This is but the beginning…


Thursday, 3 December 2009

Cold feet, warm hearts

Workshop ideas at the UNICEF Children's Climate Forum.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase
On Tuesday, we returned to our host school and went on a field trip to the Experimentarium - Copenhagen's interactive science museum. It was a really fun break from all the recent hard work, and the local students were really welcoming and enthusiastic.

After lunch, we returned to the town hall and presented our mitigation groups in a market stall format, which was so much more effective than the presentations that the adaptation groups carried out yesterday. The facilitators have been really responsive to our feedback, including issues surrounding food and the length of the plenary sessions. All the ambassadors shared what they had learned and discussed in the main hall, whilst I was given the difficult (yet fulfilling) task of explaining the Cap and Trade system. Some of the ideas that came out of the discussion included; a community bike scheme for African school children and a cultural exchange between developed and developing countries, where schools can transfer skills and resources for climate change projects.

The day ended on a real high note with a tour of the city. It was a really beautiful way to spend the evening, after which Cressie was interviewed for a UNICEF Education 4 Development video. We have been bombarded with media opportunities during and after the forum, and I am just off to record an interview for Radio 5's breakfast show for tomorrow.

Planting trees at a field trip at the UNICEF Children's Climate Forum 2009 in Copenhagen.UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

Wednesday morning was spent in the freezing cold forest, where we did tree planting and pancake making over a camp fire. Whilst Luke couldn't feel his feet by the end of the morning, I accidently set my shoes alight, and lots of pancakes landed either on the ground or on somebody's lap, it was great to get some fresh air and contribute to Denmark's huge reforestation scheme - they hope to increase tree cover by 25% in the next 50 years.

Climate Ambassadors at a field trip at the UNICEF Children's Climate Forum 2009 in Copenhagen.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

The rest of the afternoon was packed with Climate Ambassador Programme skills training, where I took part in the Solar Power workshop, where we made our own solar panels that eventually powered a radio, and the Communication Advocacy workshop, where we focused on lobbying.

The COP message group also presented their ideas to us. They hope to write a declaration, a booklet and create a video and power point. Eight climate ambassadors from developing countries have also been selected to represent the world's children at the UN Conference, which shows what amazing progress we have made in terms of children's rights.

Climate Ambassadors at the UNICEF Children's Climate Forum 2009 in Copenhagen.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

Finally, we got into our interest groups again and my group - the Climate Ambassador Programme group - made real progress, forming a detailed action plan on producing certain outputs from the forum. These include, collating a contact list of all the delegates, organising an international day of youth climate action and developing a list of community action ideas.

As you can tell, we have all been rather busy but are having amazing times. We cannot believe we only have two days left of the forum - the experience has certainly exceeded all my expectations.

Katie x

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The climate, the Countess and the cook

Climate Ambassadors at the Forum energise themselves for a plenary session in the Copenhagen City Hall.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

It has only been three days since the CCF opened and the UK delegation have already given talks in schools, made pizza, rehearsed our climate change song, taken part in countless workshops and even met the Countess of Denmark!!!

On Sunday we split up into our Adaptation workshops. For me this has been one of the biggest highlights of the forum so far. The workshop I took part in was focussed on Climate Justice. Climate Justice is an issue I am incredibly passionate about. I was really inspired by the fact that no-one disagreed or argued with one another. Every single delegate believed that industrialised countries should help developing countries deal with climate change in one way or another. This made me think that if only the world leaders could have acted like this a long time ago, the world wouldn’t be facing the climate change problems it is today.

All of the views and ideas from the different workshops shined through when presented to the whole Forum. I was chosen to present on Financial Climate Justice and although nerve wracking, it was an experience I will never forget. It was particularly moving how emotionally a young delegate from Hong Kong reacted to how much of a challenge all of the ideas would be to implement in her country. It made me realise that it’s not just developing countries suffering from climate change, but over developed countries like Hong Kong will also find it taxing to adapt to climate change.

Graeme speaks to the Forum about ideas for achieving financial climate justice.
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

In the evening, many events took place. These included Santa Claus himself lighting the Copenhagen City Christmas Tree and Flaming Pandas (people who were in Panda suits which were on fire)! We also rehearsed our climate change song for the Closing Ceremonies, where I stood next to the Countess of Denmark and the young princes who are in line to the throne of Denmark.

Graeme meets Countess Alexandra at the climate song rehearsal
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

On Monday, we split up into our Mitigation workshop groups. This was also very inspiring, and it was interesting to hear everyone’s views in my Renewable Energy workshop. In the afternoon we went to visit the UK delegation’s host school. After a ride on the Copenhagen underground we arrived at the school where the students gave us a presentation on Danish culture and climate change in Denmark- we were put to shame when we found out that 20% of Danish electricity is produced by wind power, but only 2% of UK electricity is produced this way. We were so impressed that they gave both presentations in near perfect English! We also gave our presentation on UK culture- and they laughed at our myth about the haggis.

Students from the Danish host school with the UK Delegation
UNICEF UK/2009/Rowan Boase

In the evening I learned how to make pizza dough from the Danish students, which was a lot of fun though very messy. I not only managed to cover myself in flour but I also encrusted my shoes in dough, leading everyone to think that I had in fact kneaded the dough with my feet! However, the results were delicious and we had a really great evening. We’re all now looking forward to our field trip with them to a Renewable Energy Centre tomorrow.