by Shrina Kurani and Alexander Pfeiffer
COP is two weeks long, meaning one thing: a weekend to replace stiff deliberations with warm-blooded people. There was still work to do on Saturday, but both days also served a selection of external events outside of the COP village.
The Development and Climate Days were a breath of fresh air from the Blue Zone. Hosted outside of the COP village and open to the public, the DC Days were packed with a spread of seminars from using local foods to tell compelling stories with Data Cuisine to pitching corporate resilience commitments in the Dragon’s Den.
How can food stuffs convey data? Using the spicy sambal mixed with yogurt to show how temperatures have been heating up around the world. Illustrate graphs with olive tapenade to give the Great Acceleration a kick that makes people take a second look. Or put the proportional amount of beef, chicken, and grains in buckets of water to show how much water is used to produce our beloved animal proteins.
The Dragon’s Den brought together researchers and business people alike to not only generate solutions but pitch them for “investment”. Highlighting that resilience means greater returns, that supporting livelihoods means more workforce stability, that building infrastructure means optimized logistics. Just as the ecosystem was ‘marketized’ with the concepts of natural capital and ecosystem services, sustainable (human) development is chugging along the same path.
DC Days tackled real problems with a relevant audience in mind: the rest of the world, that frankly, just doesn’t care about climate change and sustainable development. Whether you agree with working within the neoliberal paradigm or not, the perspective is compelling and effective for what we’re in dire need of: action now.
Sunday brought on the Transportation Day hosted by SLoCaT, at another beautiful Palace. As a representative of civil society, the day had a strong educational component highlighting different organizations and projects around the world. It was also marked by the announcement of a huge energy win: Germany’s commitment to decarbonize its transportation sector by 2050.
The energy for the weekend sparked Saturday night at the legendary Climate Action Network (CAN) NGO party, where delegates old and young alike connected in mass, excited to not only push the climate agenda forward, but also enjoy the exchange with like-minded people from around the world. The momentum gathered and solidified into a both physically and emotionally moving climate march on Sunday afternoon, and the COP of Action and COP for Africa fused into one. Moroccan children and international NGOs marched side by side, stopping traffic as the city stopped to look and learn about what their fellow citizens cared so much about.
Shrina is a delegate of the Young European Leadership’s delegation to COP22 and a budding entrepreneur in Silicon Valley and Berlin, with a focus on the food-water-energy nexus
Alex is the head of Young European Leadership’s delegation to the COP and a doctorate student at the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) at the Oxford Martin School