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Dickinson to Durban » Climate Change, Environmental Justice, Environmental Politics, Key COP17 Issues, Mosaic Action, Student Research » Here at Last!

Here at Last!

By: Christine Burns 14

We’ll we are here in Durban at last! It’s hard to believe that all of our hard work over the past few months has finally come to this. it is absolutely amazing here. Everyone is very welcoming and very friendly.  When we were told that we would be interviewing international delegates I was very intimidated, but everyone is very willing to share the information they have and give me the most accurate depiction of the situation that they can. You can sit on the bus or in a side event next to a complete stranger, and wind up meeting someone really interesting and very important for the negotiations.

One of many exhibits surrounding the COP

I am focusing my research on the African negotiating block’s role in the negotiations especially in light of the location of the COP and its role as “Africa’s COP”. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to talk to these men and women.  All of the individuals I interviewed on the African negotiating position thus far have brought up a few key areas of importance. Capacity building, predictable and adequate funding, a continuation of Kyoto, sustainable development for developing countries and adaptation measures for the countries such as the African countries who are going to be hit the hardest by climate change were all major speaking points during these interviews.

On interesting person that I had the privilege to interview was a delegate from Mauritania named Madyouny Tandis.  He discussed many extremely important points, but one that really hit home for me was the struggle of non-native English speakers during the negotiations.  The language barrier is an obstacle for representatives from Mauritania and many other parties, because the text of the COP gets translated multiple times, and in the process some of the underlying meaning behind the text can be lost.  This makes it difficult for the representatives to sign documents when they do not know exactly what they mean.  This reminded me of a conversation we had with the EPA representatives when we visited DC. They stressed the importance of translating the meaning behind the text so that a word like “transparency” is not translated into “spy“.  I found this to be a very salient point, and something the organizers of the COP should really work on. If all parties understood exactly what they were signing, they may be more willing to agree!

Along with all of the interviews we have been attending extremely interesting side events and lectures. These are a great way to get a feel for projects related to climate change in other countries as well as meet really cool people with similar interests.  The COP is amazing, because at any one point there are 10 places that you want to be. It’s very exciting and a little bit hectic all at the same time!

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