Before COP officially starts next week, I'm joining fellow delegates Tim and Sam at COY11, the eleventh annual Comference of Youth held in conjunction with the UN meetings. For me, today's theme has revolved around who has a space in the room, a voice at the table, and even a presence in Paris for the next couple of weeks.
I'm lucky enough to have the privilege of attending COP as a Dickinson alum, something that was relatively easy for me to obtain and finance. But for many countries and delegates around the world, it's hard for them to even be able to get their delegates to the meetings and when they're inside, they still don't have nearly as much power when compared to delegates from big, rich nations like the United States or some members of the European Union. These poorer countries aren't able to prepare their delegates as well or send as many negotiators, but they're facing climate change first and worst. Where is the space for their voices?
Future generations aren't in the room either, because they're not here yet. Today, I attended a session on intergenerational equity, or the idea that future generations must be considered today because our actions and climate are affecting them in the future. Tim has been working on this concept for years, and I'm sure will blog on it this week, but thr session really struck me as yet another example of people impacted by a problem not having their own voices. Where is their space?
And finally, as has been on everyone's mind after the terrorist attacks of a couple of weeks ago, is the space for activists to mobilize while real security concerns are still present. Can civil society still participate and be represented outside of the talks if we are forbidden from gathering? What will security lines for activists be like on the inside, and will industry representatives be allowed to breeze through? These are real questions we need to answer about the type of society that we create after tragedy, and who is still allowed to gather and speak, while still being cautious of both the potential danger and very real grief of this beautiful country and its beautiful people. I'm so happy to be here and doing my part, but remain conscious of those who aren't here, or whose voices have it been given this space.