Talanoa Dialogue at COP23

Tagalano Roa United Nations Climate change conference 2017 Bonn GermanyLast Year at COP22 in Marrakech, much of the media conversation was distracted by the US election results, and the instability of what would become of the Paris Agreement without the US’s commitment. Would it fall the way of the Kyoto Protocol? Would the economics work in its favor, as they did in the case of the Montreal Protocol? Countries weren’t sure, but they knew that inaction was too risky. They signed the Marrakech Action Protocol, indicating that they were all “Still In” regardless of what other countries decided. The decision was a powerful statement of unity for the environmental community worldwide, and a fierce posture against the new administration’s foreign policy stance. This effort was paired with a decision to include more non-state actors. Where states fail to act or where they are limited in their reach, their capacities can be expanded by including civil society in the implementation, tracking and policy making. This decision let to the organization of a Facilitative Dialogue in 2018.

The facilitative dialogue was called to address three questions:

              Where Are We?                            Where do we need to be?                             How do we get there?

These three questions were to be answered through a conversation between the stakeholders and the 196 nations that are part of the Paris Agreement.

COP23 Frank Bainimarama hosts an open dialogue with stakeholders from all constituency groups present. Talanoa session.

Stakeholders have long been fighting for a voice in the decision making of international climate change agreements, and this dialogue was especially important to youth.  Within the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), there are nine recognized constituency groups (a network of organizations that share a common purpose). They are: Business & Industry, Research & Investigation, Youth, Environmental, Local Government & Municipal Authorities, Indigenous Peoples, Farmers, Women & Gender, and Trade Unions. Each constituency has one or more policy position that they would like to see pushed through during the negotiations. Each of these constituency groups would now have a stronger voice through the Facilitative Dialogue.

 Fiji Prime Minister hosts the open dialogue
photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.

During Week One, Fiji Prime Minister and COP23 President, Frank Bainimarama and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa held an Open Dialogue between party actors and constituency groups. This was the first time for many constituency groups to have a seat at the table with equal footing and an equal voice in the conversation. Statements made by constituencies were given freely, not limited or timed as they typically are. The Fiji presidency compared the dialogue to a process called talanoa, a storytelling style used in the Pacific that emphasizes participation, inclusion and transparency, on a basis of trust and empathy.

Patricia Espinosa listens to constituency groups during talanoa session at COP23
photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.

Parties engaged as well, responding to concerns of different constituency groups. The UK mentioned locking business leaders in a room until they figured out how to transition to a green economy, while Mexico joked that their businesses went into the room willingly. Uganda talked about a national climate change forum they held with non-party stakeholders to engage youth and community organizations in climate change adaptation.

Youth asked for greater focus on climate empowerment, with financial and institutional support for their programs so that they can take action in their home countries. We also asked for climate empowerment, capacity building, and climate change education to be included in countries’ national climate action plans, especially for mitigation.

COP23 YOUNGO intervention talanoa dialogue
photo courtesy of IISD Reporting Services.

Moving into next year, there will be an online platform where we can contribute to the dialogue to try and answer some of these questions of where we’re at, where we’re going, and how to get there. The purpose of this dialogue is to create solutions, to drive innovation, and propose realistic means through which we limit global average temperature rise to 1.5⁰C.  Next year will be the big year to get these solutions together so that countries can start putting them in place worldwide before the 2023 Global Stocktake, when a count will be done of each country’s present and reduced emissions, carbon sinks, and mitigation efforts.

Youth around the world are already acting on the ground to create synergy for emissions reductions. Plant-for-the-Planet, Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network, and CliMates are just a couple examples of organizations that bring thousands of youth together for reforestation, less invasive farming, and campaign building. For capacity-building, Youth Climate Lab, China Youth Climate Action Network and Care About Climate have created tools for youth worldwide to connect on online platforms to discuss the issues, solutions, and strategies for youth activists to be most effective in their work to address climate change locally, regionally or nationally. In terms of policy action, on an international level, we have working groups within YOUNGO that address many policy issues such as

Kava- a traditional Pacific drink

Adaptation, Women & Gender, Capacity-Building, Oceans, etc. These work to consolidate our policy positions into a specific request of policy-makers.

Over the next year, the UNFCCC will be continuing the Talanoa Dialogue at intersessionals in May and at COP24 in Poland. We look forward to drinking kava and having many more talanoa sessions! In the meantime, we’ll be continuing with our capacity building work year-round and working to make it as inclusive and transparent as possible. As Mr. Bainimarama said, “We are all in the same canoe“, we must work together to find & implement solutions.

By Sarah Voska

Sarah Voska is a delegate to the UN climate change conference, COP23, and the director of the Online Youth Exchange. She studies Sustainable Management at University of Wisconsin-Parkside. Use the #ClimateSign to join the fight against climate change. Contact us at careaboutclimate@gmail.com with any questions!

Under a health lense – COY13 and COP23

Storm washed away entire classrooms in hurricane Winston.
Storm washed away entire classrooms in hurricane Winston.

The 23rd Conference of the Parties (COP23) is this year presided over by Fiji, but hosted in Bonn, Germany for logistical and financial reasons.
This is a historic moment. The first time a Small Island Developing State (SIDS) has had the helm. And it couldn’t have come at a better time! 
Mr Frank Bainimarama himself is the president of the COP and has stated that Fiji is focused on completing the Paris work program, the newly renamed ‘Talanoa Dialogue’ (instead of facilitative, much nicer as this is about inclusive, thoughtful discussions), the Climate Action Agenda, Oceans, Disaster Risk Insurance, the Indigenous Peoples Platform and the Gender Action Plan.
Fiji seem to be really taking the lead and providing strong leadership already in these areas. I am cautiously hopeful of some movement with them already so strongly affected by climate disasters, ocean and agricultural changes and rising sea levels. I was in remote Fijian island groups last year with Sea Mercy, on a mission post the record-breaking Cyclone Winston and am personally moved by having people in control that are so affected, in so many ways.

Children stand in front of destroyed houses 6 months after Fiji’s hurricane Winston.


A recent analysis of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) of countries, the path they have committed to meet their own goals of the Paris Agreement, found only 65% had included any mention of health. Only 90 countries mentioning it in the context of mitigation. So we still have a long way to go in terms of awareness and policy lobbying.

Much media attention has also been given to where health and climate meet due to the recent release of ‘Tracking progress on health and climate change’,  by The Lancet Countdown. Just in time for COP, they estimated that 9 million premature deaths in 2015 were from pollution, ’three times more deaths than from AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined, 15 times more than from all wars and other forms of violence.’
They unpack the true costs of air, water and soil pollution that has been ignored for so long, often in the name of ‘economic ‘progress’. They also recommended cost-effective measures to tackle the problems, including implementing monitoring systems and having timely accountability associated, working with business and local councils and being willing to confront vested interests.
There was also a special mention of the responsibilities of health professionals – that we need to control the pollution and emissions of the health sector that make up a large footprint in society. Lead by example by reducing in our own lives, support climate planning at all levels, develop climate focused health curriculum and ‘support research in exposure science, environmental science, health policy research and health economics.’

Partnerships between government, civil society, and the health professions have proven powerfully effective in past struggles to control pollution. For example, in the ultimately successful effort to remove lead from gasoline, which was fiercely resisted for many years by the lead industry, partnerships were built between government agencies, health professionals, and civil society organisations.

The study has been widely picked up by the media and will be very useful for reference in the negotiations.

I arrived in Bonn early, to attend the 13th Conference of Youth. With 1300 participants from 114 countries. It was an incredible conference, organised and ran completely by volunteer youths. It really was a model to follow in terms of sustainability. For example all catering was vegan or ‘recovered’, from bakeries and such who couldn’t sell the products the day before. It was extremely inspiring, productive and uplifting conference. They also made it a free conference with meals only 5Euro and securing a very low transport ticket for the participants as well, really ensuring the lowest barriers to participation that were possible.
Health featured a lot more than I thought it would – with five education sessions held on various aspects of health and climate, very necessary as many people still don’t see the relevance immediately as it is not clear in the text and discussions currently.

Emily teaches a Care About Climate session with Sarah Voska at COY13

I co-ran two sessions on the psychology of engaging people, making sure we make our efforts as effective as possible, knowing what approaches turn people off and what gets people to be open to new ideas and change. For a quick rundown of some of these very useful concepts, you can watch these short videos – Psychology for a Better World by Niki Harre and Science Of Persuasion based on Dr. Cialdini’s book, Influence.

I was also alerted to a relatively new health organisation, The European Environment and Health Youth Coalition (EEHYC), that is specifically targeting policies in the EU where health is impacted by environmental issues.
The first platform was created with the support of the WHO in Lithuania, but also now they have platforms in Hungary, Slovenia, Ukraine, Croatia, The Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
They are the first youth health alliance I know of with the focus purely on environmental issues and they are very excited at the support they are receiving to engage in the space.
Outside of youth, the EU do have the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) and Health Care Without Harm (HCWH) that operates in the EU.

EEHYC ran an action challenge, giving out 200 pedometers to encourage and remind people of the importance of active transport and during the climate march held on the 4th, a large group of local young health professionals turned up in coats and masks, asking for the end of coal mining.

Climate Sign
COY13 Stands in Solidarity for Climate Action with Fiji PM & COP23 President Frank Bainamamara, Exec. Secretary Patricia Espinosa, and UNFCCC Focal Point on Education & Youth, Adriana Valenzuela.


In general, I am feeling very hopeful. I was quite emotional seeing how many developing countries and women were being empowered to speaking positions and were even just able to attend. Partly due to a huge effort by the volunteer coordinators to facilitate and find funding for global south scholarships this year. Of course not enough, but a huge difference to what I have seen in the past.
A 19 year old samoan girl, who studies at Auckland University, brought me to tears at the closing ceremony. I was so proud of her poise, power and mana she brought. One beautiful thing she said was regarding a saying they have in Samoa, that the fastest canoe is one with an elder steering but with the youth providing the momentum.
I left feeling supported, enlightened, connected and empowered. Ready for COP23, where we have 1 year to get all of the Paris Agreement details finalised and that momentum is needed in many other areas of negotiations if we want a realistic chance of staying below 2 degrees C.

If you want to follow, comment, support or be involved with my progress at this COP, feel free to follow me on twitter @emilyjoyrushton or through Care About Climate’s facebook page.
I will endeavour to find time to report back after each week. 🙂
Bula vinaka!

Emily at COP22 in 2016

 Emily Rushton is a New Zealand nurse, currently living in France and doing a Masters in Health, Sustainability and Wellbeing. She has been an active participant in the United Nations Climate negotiations for 1.5 years, focusing mainly on agriculture’s intersection with health and empowering youth. In 2016 she was runner-up for the NZ young Nurse of the year for her climate education outreach through OraTaiao: New Zealand’s Health and Climate Council. She also directs Care About Climate’s mentorship program, Climate Ambassador’s, as well as being part of the coordinating team of the youth constituency of the UNFCCC.

Reflecting on OYE

If you Google my name you’d probably find some facebook pages or some websites with this intro – Amalen Sathananthar, raised in Kuantan and someone who has spent a lot of his youth with nature through various outdoor activities like camping and trail running. Through this bond I have discovered a need to help preserve what remains of the natural environment and help reverse the effects of Climate change in whatever way that I can. An avid volunteer at environmental NGO’s, I spend most of my time dedicated to my urban agriculture venture – Tanah U: Green Union (TU:GU) in Malaysia.

That’s me on the left!

Well, that’s me. I like to think of myself as an environmentalist. I give talks and workshops on matters related to climate change and activism and try to help out where I can. This is a little recollection of my past year being a part of the OYE program, from making lifelong friends to giving a talk in a conference in China.

If you have been involved in the global youth scene in environmentalism, you definitely have heard of YOUNGO before. I joined YOUNGO’s mailing list  in 2015 and have been fairly active on it since then, getting involved with discussions and organising actions etc.

About a year ago, I came across an email thread on capacity building. The need for a centralised capacity building platform had been widely discussed because there seems to be many with gaps in information that are really crucial and these things like what is YOUNGO or UNFCCC are quite basic and some things like ‘How does China’s new energy mix affect the regional energy diversification’ are a bit more complicated. It’s not like we don’t have people who can help give clarifications but the platform to share this information hadn’t really been properly established. Different initiatives and projects have been set up by a varying number of groups but nothing seemed to stick or propagate globally.

Then suddenly (well not really),  Natalie from Care About Climate popped up and presented this program to us – The Online Youth Exchange.  This program was an international youth exchange specifically focused on information transfer, an initiative by Care About Climate and China Youth Climate Action Network. I saw this and thought, “Hey this looks cool, let’s give it a go, plus I can possibly practice my different activism workshop sessions on here maybe.” So sign on I did.
First things first, I was not the only one from YOUNGO. Quite a few people signed on about 90 applied and 60 or so were accepted into the program to participate (of course, there were a ton of sleeping members).
We were contacted by the coordinators and paired up with a partner of similar interests and I was partnered with Cherry, an environmental economics major  from Renmin University from China. We we’re told to get in touch with our partners and told that every month there would be 2 webinars made and presented by the paired groups of participants. We we’re also advised to give comparisons during our sessions eg – bike sharing systems in America in comparison to China. A youth capacity building session run by the youth for the youth.


All this sounded fun and good but I was worried about timings as I am someone who never has a fixed schedule. To my relief my partner, Cherry was in the same time zone and being a student she was pretty flexible with timings and thank god the webinars were recorded and I could watch them on the trains in the morning on the way to work.

Friendship forms Beijing conference because of Online Youth Exchange
Cherry & Amalen get to meet!

So the program continued on for a duration of 1 year. Cherry and I became really good friends. She’s like 5 years younger but really eager to know more and do more for the environment. I was not going to COP 22 in Marrakech but Cherry was; and even though she’d been for her local Chinese Youth Climate Action Network (CYCAN) trainings and she had a specific purpose going there, she was still quite nervous. We spent a good few days talking over Skype on what to expect and the different things at COP and how things work and what to look for. It was fun and useful to actually be putting to good use all the things I learnt in COP 21 . We became really close good friends and would contact each other regularly just to see how the other was doing.  

Cherry and other OYE Participants meet at COP 22 in Morocco

Fast forward to March 2017,  Cherry and I were going to give our first webinar on Climate Action: Governmental and Non-Governmental sides to the story. We had prepped for a couple of weeks, I was going to talk about Non Violent Direct Action (NVDA) and Cherry was going to talk about the whole Top-Down approach and how policies made by the government affect the climate action scene.
Our session was direct and straightforward and we had about 12 people in attendance. Cherry was quite nervous as she was not so used to giving presentations like this and I  felt uneasy and worried about the quality in my deliverance as this was my first webinar I was giving. Was I going to get the message out right?
Well, at the end of the session I played a role-playing game called the River Situation and this got everyone excited and really explained how  civil societies, general public and the government interact with one another in real life situations that involve the destruction or protection of the environment. Everyone was ecstatic , and even though things could’ve been better in terms of how the interactions between participants happened , it was amazingly fun and engaging.
You can check it out here.

And here’s the beauty of it: All these videos on such diverse topics can be found all online. That’s something I considered while giving my session, How do I make this interesting for those watching it later? Not everyone can be Sal Khan from Khan academy. But it still turned out well and like with all the videos, the most important thing is the information being talked about. I enjoyed watching them, expanding my knowledge base whilst I’m half asleep on the train on the way to appointments in the morning.

Check out the whole library of recordings here.

A month or so after webinar I got in touch with the coordinators again and they liked my session and asked me to come to China to do the game there. I was slightly perplexed and ecstatic. Turns out that OYE had been invited to come to the 9th International Youth Summit On Energy and Climate Change (IYSECC) and run a 3 hour workshop and Sarah and Echo (The Coordinators of OYE) wanted my game as a part of it. They had the funding for it and I was keen to attend this conference. It was a good chance for me to experience giving a session in an international setting. I was not going to pass it up! Plus this was a huge confidence boost for me personally, as I was asked to come and bring my energy and enthusiasm to a new bigger platform .

Meeting with Chen Nengcheng -master of Chinese Academy of Sciences, PhD in Kagoshima university Japan
Meeting with Li Dihua-vice dean and associate profesor of college of architecture and landscape architecture at Peking university

The sessions during the conference had some really big people involved and that was really impressive . The speakers were professionals from all sorts of varying environmentally related fields . I have recently taken an interest in urban planning and the session on this topic were my main focus. Albeit that it was mostly in mandarin, I could always find some other participant to help translate and the slides in English (some not all) were very helpful. The Question & Answer sessions were my favourite, as I could shoot all my questions
to these amazing speakers and their responses left me more inquisitive than before.  

The D-Day of our session,  and I was ecstatic. We had an audience of about 70-90 participants out of the total 292 people in attendance, as there were parallel workshops and talks going on at any given moment. We had Sarah , Pradeep, Jasmita  and Faysal all from OYE here to talk about their journeys and climate action as a whole and I took a 45 minute chunk to do our Role-Play game. Here’s how it goes:- a coal company is about to destroy a forest for mining purposes. One village upstream will be getting new jobs and still have their clean environment but then there is another village downstream whom will be directly affected by this development. There’s a civil society trying to help and of course, as we were in China, a government side too, to give their assessments and opinions on the matter. So I split everyone into these 5 groups , gave them the scenario and a time frame and they had to work together or against each other to find a solution.


It was fun and most of all engaging. At the end during the debrief everyone’s faces were filled within awe, sadness, happiness  because they finally got a taste (of some sorts)  of what happens in the real world when people campaign or fight for their rights. It’s not always fair. Now this might sound confusing to you as a reader but maybe check it out online- the River-Role playing situation or my webinar.

Presenting on International Cooperation & Youth Action

It’s now been slightly less than a month since then, I’m back home in Malaysia, the OYE program for the year has ended and the next batch is about to start soon. If this little article (more like a rant session ) has given you some insight to this program maybe you should check it out for yourself at http://onlineyouthexchange.org/  or To hear from more OYE participants about their experiences, watch this video! You can join the OYE program for the upcoming session too, the application opens on August 15th and runs till the end of the month.

Climate Sign from Great Wall of China with OYE and IYSECC participants

                                                            Join OYE!

Take it from me, it was one hell of an experience – meeting new people, gaining new experiences, knowledge and having a whole bunch of fun all the way!

~Amalen Sathananthar

OYE Participant 2016/17

IYSECC 9.0 Scholar

IYSECC Conference

Last week, I joined our partners for the Online Youth Exchange, China Youth Climate Action Network (CYCAN) in Tianjin for their 9th annual International youth summit on energy and climate change. The conference spanned the course of three days during which we learned about topics ranging from agriculture to architecture, fashion to food to address this year’s theme: Green Youth, Green Future. The main focuses were Green Food, Green Cities and Green Lifestyle.

Most exciting though, was that we had the chance to bring the Online Youth Exchange program offline for a couple of days and meet up! I began working with Echo of CYCAN two years ago, and have been talking with our OYE participants since the program year began last September, and to finally meet up was incredible. CYCAN generously funded travel scholarships for 4 OYE participants:

The four participants were joined by two Chinese OYErs, Yirui and Cherry (partners with Jasmita and Amalen, respectively) and the coordinator from CYCAN, Echo.

Together, our OYE team presented to approximately 75 students on a how to get engaged in activism. We began with a talk on how to get involved locally; we discussed power mapping and event planning. This was followed by a game, presented by Amalen, which simulated a campaign to stop a coal mine from being built in a forest. It was a great way to simulate the types of experiences and barriers that they might encounter should they move into activism, and they all seemed to be enjoying the thrill of the game as they ran back and forth across the room devising deals with the other groups. After a quick break, students returned to watch a video of OYE participants (thanks to David for his video editing skills!) and heard from all 4 OYE scholarship recipients about climate action in their own countries. We finished the seminar with a presentation on how to link local action with greater global movements and an explanation of the UNFCCC and COP.

We were interviewed and filmed by CGTN during our presentation. It was my first time being on TV ever, so it was exciting and nerve-wracking (for all of us!) Thankfully, Pradeep is a natural and his passion for protecting his homeland showed through. Special thanks to Cui “Hans” Hui’ao for his journalism!

Throughout the duration of the conference, we passed out climate sign stickers, and encouraged attendees to use the sign to symbolize a desire for action on climate change. We asked them to tell us why they Care About Climate, here’s what inspires them!

Accomplishments:

  • Distributed 250 Climate Sign Stickers
  • Took 40 Climate Sign photos
  • Presented to 75 students for 3 hours about the Online Youth Exchange, Care About Climate, how to get involved in activism campaigns, and global activism work.
  • Online-to-offline meet up of 9 OYE participants/coordinators.
  • Collected 36 phone contacts and 54 email addresses of interested parties
  • Received 10 responses to the OYE interest form on our website
  • Planned for OYE 3.0 programming and budget, based on feedback from OYE 2.0
  • Featured on TV on CGTN’s English channel, broadcast to approximately 500,000 viewers regionally.
  • Shared the Climate Sign with 300+ people
  • Solidified ties with CYCAN

Sarah Voska

Director, Online Youth Exchange

Care About Climate

This Earth Day, the World Will be “Signing” On for Climate Action

This Earth Day, world leaders will gather in New York to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement that was negotiated last December in France. However, world leaders will not be the only ones signing on. People from around the world will raise the Climate Sign to unite for climate action, and show that they are holding their world leaders accountable.

ClimateSignonTowerDuring the two weeks leading up to Earth Day, April 22nd, a group of organizations including Care About Climate, Citizens Climate Lobby, Climate Central, and others, will be asking people around the world to metaphorically “sign” the Paris Agreement by raising Climate Sign.

“By uniting together as individuals, we are committing ourselves to finding climate solutions, but we are also showing our neighbors, friends, family, community, and world leaders that we want climate action now, and we need to work together to make the change we need to see,” states Natalie Lucas, the Executive Director of Care About Climate.

Individuals and organizations can go to SignTheAgreement.org to post a photo raising the climate sign, or post directly to their social media with the #climatesign. These photos will collectively show the diversity of support for climate action.

“With tens of thousands of submissions from individuals around the world, we can demonstrate that there is international momenParisAgreement_#1tum for climate action, and that climate change is a challenge that takes collaboration and expertise from all sectors of our global community,” reports Hadley Greswold, the founder of ClimateSign.org. She continues, “As the effects of climate change are felt around the world, we want leaders in New York to feel the necessity and pressure for action.”

To participate, individuals and groups can submit their Climate Sign photos at SignTheAgreement.org, or use the #climatesign to tag their photo.

 

The End is Just the Beginning

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The past week has felt like the longest waiting game that has ever been played. As high level ministers talked behind closed doors, we were diligently working to influence the process in whatever way that we could from social media, to press conferences, to direct discussions with negotiating staff about the agreement. We even participated in a few actions within the conference space to let negotiators, and the world, know what we wanted in the agreement. Finally, on Saturday representatives from 196 countries came together in the plenary halls to declare that they had come to an agreement.

This is a historic moment. This is the first time that the global community has come together to create a process to address global climate change that does not just fall on developed nations (although they must do more because they are historically more responsible for emission production), but falls upon everyone everywhere to act on climate, and that is an exciting prospect. All nations agreed that they need to keep global warming on average well below 2℃, in fact they want to aim for 1.5℃ or below in order to protect low-lying islands and desert regions. This means that they will have to phase out of fossil fuels, and keep current reserves in the ground if they want to stay below these targets according to science, which was mentioned in the agreement to happen by the end of the century at the latest.

They also agreed that they would submit pledges every five years that will be monitored, reported, and verified to make sure that countries are complying with what they say they will do. This will be accompanied with finance and support for projects that help with mitigation and adaptation to climate change as well as reparations that are associated with the losses and damages to climate change. Finally, for the first time in international environmental law there are references to equity language such as human rights, gender, and intergenerational equity (future generations), indigenous rights, health, migrants, and persons in vulnerable situations, which links this environmental concern directly to individuals that will be impacted. Many of these ideas are innovative, and it is incredible that we have moved so fast and so far in international climate policy in a few short years, and a lot of it had to do with the global movement that we have created.

In the past couple years the world has demanded that countries take action on climate change from the People’s Climate March, to major religions expressing direct requests for action, to local movements that are getting campuses, cities, and churches to divest. The tides are changing, and people are demanding that the threat of climate change is addressed immediately in just ways.

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Now more than ever it will be important to keep up this momentum, and hold our governments accountable to taking significant steps to addressing climate change as is outlined in this agreement. We need to go home and push our governments to develop plans to uphold their end of the bargain, and push them to do more than they think they can by creating the political will to do so from the grassroots. This is an exciting time for all of us, and it is amazing what we can accomplish when we decide that we need to address something. It is clear now that this is not the end of our work, but only the beginning to decarbonize our future, create just transitions, and prevent warming in order to protect the most vulnerable among us. This is a matter of protecting lives and livelihoods so take this moment, and build momentum from it for our communities, our countries, and our planet.

First Stop: Tucson, AZ

Hello! My name is Nat10434318_10152467474489169_9071055305704435390_nalie, and I am the Executive Director of Care About Climate. I have been working on environmental issues since I was 16 starting with a plastic bag reduction campaign in my hometown of Flagstaff, AZ. I got involved with the climate movement in 2012 when I attend my first United Nations Conference of the Parties in Doha, Qatar. I was intrigued by the complexity of the issue, I was inspired by the people that were dedicating their lives to fight it, and I witnessed the urgency and need to address the issue now, if not yesterday. Since then I have been dedicating my studies and my life to addressing this issue of climate change through education and advocacy as well as on the ground163251_476774687259_7289451_n projects.

This is Don.  He is Care About Climate’s videographer and photographer. He is also from Flagstaff, AZ and co-owns Ambient Lens LLC. Don has a lot of experience working on telling the story of indigenous and environmental issues through multimedia.

Together, we are traveling around the United States on our Road Trip to Paris to talk to communities about climate change, climate policy, and what we can do about it.

Why a road trip, and why now? Are you driving to France? These are all great questions that we get, and I can answer them. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is meeting this year in Paris, France for their 21st Conference of the Parties (COP 21). At this meeting nations will come together to create a new climate agreement that all countries will be signing onto to address this huge problem of climate change. Many people do not know about this historical meeting and they do not know how they can help make a difference in the conversation. So it is our goal to help spread awareness and engage people around the United States around the COP.  We think one of the best ways to do that is to visit people in their community to talk about what they can do at home, locally, to have a global impact. Doing a road trip helps us visit dozens of places and connect with people on a personal level. So no, we are not driving to France, but we are road tripping until Paris.

IMG_2276Our first stop on the Road Trip to Paris was Tucson, AZ to visit the University of Arizona. This is my alma mater, and it is the school and community helped foster my passion for climate change, environmental justice, and taking action on the issues that matter most. The UA also has top of the line researchers and programs that are working to learn more about climate change while building resilient communities in the process.  In every way this was the perfect place to start.

We drove into Tucson last Thursday and talked with individuals from the Agnese N Haury Foundation, which is a foundation that focuses on climate justice issues. We learned about what groups that they are funding around the community are doing to combat climate change. One of the projects is a thriving compost program that is a partnership between the Tohono O’odham Nation, the City of Tucson, and the University of Arizona called Compost Cats. This was originally a student-run project that has changed the way the community looks at food waste and the connection to climate change, and it is expanding to decrease that food waste overall by taking the food that can still be eaten and redistributing it to the community. The foundation has also have been funding a fabulous school garden program that helps revolutionize underserved schools by providing them with gardens, composting bins, water harvesting systems, and curriculum that can be integrated into the children’s everyday learning experience.  Finally, we heard from students at the UA that are think12022621_1055934601096312_7101373551921056133_oing about climate issues through literature, and are writing fiction pieces that are inspired by the things that they see are happening all around them as a result of a changing climate.

In addition to meeting with the Haury Foundation, we were able to talk to a variety of community members about their efforts, which includes Power Through Paris workshops to talk about how to build momentum for climate action in Arizona, the city developing a climate resiliency plan, and local groups like Physicians for Social Responsibility working on adaptation toolkits for neighborhoods. After meeting with all these groups and learning about their initiatives it was exciting to see all the momentum that has been building up in a community I grew up in to seriously address the issue of climate change by mitigating it and adapting to it.

We gave our first Road Trip to Presentation on Monday at the UA’s Institute of the Environment. Students, staff, faculty members, and community members all came out to learn about the climate negotiations and how they could help. It was a great group that had a lot of knowledge collectively, which made the presentation very interactive an exciting.

It was great visiting Tucson and seeing it grow in many fun and exciting ways. On to the next adventure! Check us out at Arizona State University on Thursday: https://sustainability.asu.edu/events/.