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Dickinson to Durban » Climate Change, Key COP17 Issues, Mosaic Action, Student Research » YOUNGOs “twinkle” @ COP17

YOUNGOs “twinkle” @ COP17

By Dani Thompson ’12

Another day another 8 Rand (=$1)…or is it 7 rand to the dollar today?

Life at COP17 here in Durban is beginning to fall into somewhat of a routine; a very wonky one at that. One thing which has quickly become my favorite part of each day is the 8:30 AM morning meeting with YOUNGO. The best way to describe  YOUNGO is that it is a group of groups. Youth Non-governmental organizations (hence the NGO of YOUNGO) from all over the world come together to form one cohesive body which has developed a strong presence at the UNFCCC conference of parties. US groups participating in YOUNGO include: SustainUS, the Sierra Student Coalition, Green Peace Green Reporters, Inconvenient Youth,, and many more! As I said, many of the youth here at the conference attend the daily YOUNGO meeting, which has its own unique agenda…

FIRST all groups sit in a puddle/circle on the floor of the meeting room. There are over 100 people involved each day but we sit to encourage discussion and also to make everyone feel equal and able to be heard. There is one facilitator who stands with a microphone and pushes the daily agenda forward.

SECOND: Each group nominates a “spoke” who sits in the inner circle and is the only voice allowed to represent the group. The spoke is a great way to have an effective meeting. With so much energy and so many ideas and opinions to be heard, it would be difficult for YOUNGO meetings to make real progress.

THIRD: The Spokes go around in a circle and introduce themselves and state the organization which they represent.

THEN…the meeting goes though issues which were listed in the daily agenda. Pretty normal right? Well, consider that if you were to come to a meeting unknowingly, you would soon realize that this vocal group also has a very non-vocal side. YOUNGOS like sign language. Yes, just as the spokes help to keep the peace of the discussion, hand signals let everyone have a voice without raising theirs.

Here is a list of hand signals used by YOUNGO:

  • Make a “C” with your hand = I need clarification on something…
  • lift your hands up = speak up (louder)
  • push your hands down = slow down your speech…lots of people speak English as their second language!
  • put one finger up (Spokes only) = I want to speak


and finally my personal favorite…TWINKLE!
If you like what is being said you “twinkle” with your hands. Think Jazz/Spirit fingers. You can (sort of) see what the twinkling looks like in the photo above.  

I will keep updating about the YOUNGO groups and youth in general at COP17 so stay posted! We have some very fun and kitschy actions planned for tomorrow, which is “Young and Future Generations Day” at COP. It is great to see that UNFCCC has decided to recognize us on this day because here in Durban the message from the youth is loud and clear. The youth care and they are not going to back down on what matters to them: a future climate which they, and their children will be living with as a result of what is decided (and left un-decided) at COP17.

I will end with a proverb which was quoted in a presentation I watched yeasterday about climate vulnerability…did I mention it was given by a middle-school-aged South African girl who attends the Oprah Winfrey School?

“We do not inherit our environment from our ancesters, we are borrowing it from our children”


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Filed under: Climate Change, Key COP17 Issues, Mosaic Action, Student Research · Tags: , , , ,

2 Responses to "YOUNGOs “twinkle” @ COP17"

  1. Grace Lange says:

    Loved this Dani. Isn’t amazing to see youth from all over the world in agreement about climate change?? It gives me hope for the next generation of climate negotiators.

  2. doni says:

    Langelette, loving the commentary. It’s always helpful to learn how large numbers of people communicate effectively. You sharing details of how the YOUNGOS is much appreciated. Hand signals rock. Waiting on the edge of my bluestone yurt step to hear more.

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