Monday was the day we had all been anticipating for a long time! I had been looking forward to my first day at the COP18 Conference already, but when our delegation won a lottery among NGOs for 1 ticket to attend the Opening Ceremony and I learned that I would be the one attending, my day became even more exciting.
The ceremony started off with motivational goals and ambitions for the next two weeks of the Conference. The first to speak was the COP17 President and Minister of International Relations and Cooperation for South Africa, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane. She wrapped up COP17-CMP7 by requesting that Doha stays true to the legacy that COP17 in Durban left, and that a new chapter be established which will lead us beyond 2020.
|COP17 President Maite Nkoana-Mashabane speaking at the Opening Ceremony.|
"We realize why we are here, why we keep coming back year and after year...We owe it to our people, the global citizenry. We owe it to our children to give them a safer future than what they are currently facing."
This quote really stood out for me because, as a young person, the climate change issue will directly affect my generation, and the generations to follow. Nkoana-Mashabane concluded her speech by passing the COP presidential title on to Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, the Deputy Prime Minister of Qatar as well as the head of the Emir's court. He also presented his goals for the conference, and his willingness to work with the Parties to make COP18-CMP8 the best it can be.
|COP18 President Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah speaking at the Opening Ceremony.|
Another featured speaker was the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres. She said that CMP18 would mark the closure of the first Kyoto Protocol, and the movement into the second. The Kyoto Protocol is the UNFCCC's international binding treaty which required industrialized countries which signed on to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. She also said the Bali Action Plan is set to be moved from a "plan" to "action" at COP18. The Bali Action Plan was adopted at COP13 in 2007. It addresses five points to aid conquering climate change which are: adaptation, mitigation, the transfer of technology, long- term action, and resources for finance. It also addresses the importance of reducing emissions from deforestation and land development. Figueres presented a wide view of what was to come about at the Conference and I'm looking forward to see this happen over the two week period.
|Christiana Figueres participating in a YOUNGO Q&A session.|
I was able to see Figueres once again at a YOUNGO meeting later in the day. YOUNGO is the Youth Non-Governmental Organizations constituency which encompasses people ages 18 to 30. This session was question and answer based and allowed youth to have their voices heard.
|The SES and ASD group at the end of our first day at COP18-CMP8.|
My first day at the Conference was everything I could have hoped for. I'm looking forward to the sessions I will get to observe and the people I will be able to connect with in the next two weeks! This is an incredible opportunity to have and I intend to get everything that I possibly can out of it.