It’s Saturday, finally! We’ve all made it to the end of the 1st week of negotiations.
Well just about everyone…
However, as much as I would like to go out and enjoy the weekend, here in Bonn Saturday is just another negotiating day, so I sit here simultaneously following a session online, tweeting away what’s going on, organising an action and writing this blog, only daring occasionally to glance out the window at the beautiful blue sky above.
But, I can resist the temptation of the blue sky calling, because today is an important day to be at the UNFCCC. With many of the sessions now going on behind closed doors here, at the minute as civil society participants we are not having an easy time even finding out what’s going on, never mind having our voices heard in this process. Today the Chair of one of the groups opened up his session to allow civil society in, he even arranged for it to be in one of the big rooms so as many people as wanted could attend.
Mind, since the session was about civil society participation it would have been kind of off not to.
But anyway it wasn’t a given, so it was important that we turned up and took part. He even told us to come forward from our usual seats at the back of the room and fill up any empty seats at the front (where the countries usually sit). Eating sweets while pretending to be El Salvador was fun!
As fun as it was though the session had a serious and important purpose. Civil society participation is imperative to this process, but over the last couple of years our means of participation at the UNFCCC have been cut back and curtailed over and over again. This session was designed to allow a constructive dialogue between us, the secretariat, and the countries about how we can improve things moving forward.
Many issues were discussed from the logistics of conference venues to the way we are allowed to speak on the floor in sessions. But it was the youth who brought up a point very close to my heart: the way we ‘creatively’ have our voices heard in these negotiations.
Over the years our actions have provided a moment of humanity to this process, a stark reminder of what we stand to loose if we don’t sort this out and of what we stand to gain if we do. They allow us engage here at the negotiations in our own way, using tools just as powerful as political wrangling and technical complexity. Street theatre, music, dance, art, the list goes on and on. We have rapped, we have played football, we have turned entire sections of the UN into new and magical lands…… We have engaged with our anger and with our hope, we have never forgotten that this IS an emotional process, even when we are faced with these grey and soulless halls. Through these means we have had an impact, we have changed things, we have taken our future in our own hands.
But recently our opportunities to do this without breaking ‘UNFCCC rules’ have been less and less.
This morning in the session we asked this to change, specifically we asked that they “provide more open space for expression to civil society observers.”
Expression: The act of expressing, conveying, or representing in words, art, music, or movement; a manifestation
Today we simply asked to be allowed to express ourselves.
In whatever manner we choose to.
Our future. Our negotiations. Our way.
This is a hard process to be involved in, this is a difficult life to lead, these are long days, and long nights with very little sleep. To get through them, to participate effectively, we have to be able to do it in our way, we have to be able to express ourselves.
Whatever we are feeling.
So let’s start right now. Negotiator Trackers… Working the weekend on a Saturday afternoon at the UNFCCC….
To anyone working to create a better world on a Saturday afternoon.