An African Dream


The first step in creating the future you want to see is to imagine it, to dream it, to see it in your mind’s eye, so beautiful, so real, that you want to reach out and grab it.

Only then when you have taken the realm of the impossible and planted the seeds there that will one day lead to shoots of the possible breaking through the weary dry ground and growing, connecting and flowering. Only then will you be able to grasp what you are working towards and pull it towards you, taking it out of the realm of the impossible and create something real, something beautiful, something amazing.

Today on another uninspiring day at the un climate talks, if you were listening carefully, through the dryness and political language of the ordinary interventions we heard of an African dream of the future. A dream about how they saw us moving forward through Bonn and where they expected us to be by December, when we will planting the seeds of our future on African soil at Cop17 in South Africa.

On a day when many of the sessions were marred by more squabbling over the agenda and more discussions on not very much, in the opening KP plenary the Africa group took to the floor to stress that they expected countries to come to South Africa with a precise strategy for adopting a second period of the Kyoto Protocol in Durban.

But is this just as I said, an African dream – with no basis in reality?

A second period for the KP has been a contentious and dividing issues for seemingly a life time now. We have been fighting for agreement on this since time began (or at least my unfccc time began). And yet we have been continuously disappointed, frustrated and angered by more and more of the big developed countries coming out against it, especially over the last year.

The Kyoto Protocol is the only legally binding instrument we have to ensure emission reductions by developed countries. The commitments they have enshrined in there are not actually good enough and even with the KP being legally binding many of them are woefully under performing. But enshrining commitments in law is about more than just the legality of making them stick…

It is also about trust.

I had the utter privilege to spend some time in East Africa in 2009 and I am lucky enough to count among my friends many young people from Africa who share a passion and a belief in the same dream of the future that I have.

Or maybe I share theirs.

Either way I have found them to be some of the most welcoming, warm and trusting people I have ever met.

I would never in 1000 years want to abuse that trust.

Yet here at the unfccc developing countries have had their trust abused over and over again by the developed ones. Power has been wielded, promises broken, trust destroyed, and time after time it is the most vulnerable who have lost out.

No wonder the Africa Group, representing many if the world who will suffer first and worst from climate change, are insisting on something more than a political handshake when we are guests in their beautiful homeland.

Yet as we sit in these halls and watch, sense, feel, our dreams slipping further and further away in endless squabbling. As it becomes harder and harder to imagine us even getting past the first couple of agenda items never mind getting a 2nd commitment period of the KP in time. As thinking about the consequences of this leads us to face a future we would not wish to imagine even in our wildest dreams. Is the Africa Group wasting time on a hopeless dream instead of imaging a different way forward?

Because some of the other countries are already searching for another way. But with no alternative being presented which fits the bill we must only presume their dreams of this are still waiting to be formed in the back of their minds, swirling around in the mist of ambiguity.

At the minute the KP is the only dream we have. It is what we see in our minds eye, it is what we can imagine, we can feel, we can reach out and grab. We know it is not enough and we are willing to keep dreaming, to keep reaching. But we have to begin to make our dreams reality and any other way at the minute is still lost in the clouds of the subconscious of those too scared to dream.

Today this African dream was the only dream, and it’s a dream presently teetering on the edge between the realm of the impossible and the possible.

So how do we push it into the realms of the possible?

Well first we need a few more people to dream with the Africans. This December we will all be sleeping on African soil and the weary, dry ground of a continent already feeling the effects of climate change will be where our dream has to grow, has to flourish. Here in Bonn over the next 2 weeks we need more people to begin to dream an African dream, we need to plant the seeds of the possible, and we need to do it now to allow it time to grow before we get to South Africa in December.

We need to prove we can be trusted before we step foot on African soil.

And they are asking us to do this through the KP.

It’s time to stop walking around in the dark and open both our minds and our hearts to the African dream.

Though as I finish this blog and drop into bed after another hard un day I do hope both me, and the guy in the picture I chose for this blog, have dreams that are a little more beautiful and a little more inspiring than ones which feature the KP…

About The Author

Avatar of Anna Collins

Born and bred in Warrington in the *sunny* North of England, Anna was brought up by parents with a deep sense of justice and taught to always fight for what she believed is right. "I guess you could say it was in the blood, my gran went to Greenham Common in the 80s."