Wednesday, November 28, 2012

First Impression of COP18

When I first walked into the Qatar National Convention Center(QNCC) I had an idea in my mind on how the conference would be. I imagined formal meetings with delegates speeding around, chatting up their collegues. I envisioned a very distinct and rigid atmosphere. This image quickly dissolved as I experienced the conference.
The SESEF delegates walking at the front of the center.

Georgia and I in the center.
The QNCC is massive. There are meetings and presentations going on everywhere throughout the center. The first area I managed to stumble upon was the US Center, hidden in a back corner of the QNCC. Here I watched a presentation by NASA entitled, "Looking Back and Looking Down". This presentation touched on many different climate issues, focusing on the data collected by NASA satellites. The presentation was accompanied by fantastic HD graphics on the Hyperwall, which was a group of 9 TV's arrayed into one large screen. Overall the presentation provided a solid background in climate science as a foundation for the next two weeks.

One of many meeting rooms at the Qatar National Convention Center

One of our delegates, Georgia, getting interviewed near the kiosks.
The QNCC has a few very large halls, some of which are split up into meeting rooms and exhibition halls. One of these rooms is filled with hundreds of kiosks that represent all the different constituencies, interest groups, and organizations at COP18. This is my favorite area in the QNCC because it represents the diversity present at the conference. Here in Doha I have certain organizations and constituencies that I want to follow, one of them being the Indigenous People constituency. At one of these kiosks I had a very interesting conversation with a group from the Tebtebba organization, which represents interests of indigenous people from the Philippines and Indonesia. This conversation was a perfect example of just how friendly people are at COP18 and how excited they are to be here. All I had to do was introduce myself and the rest just flowed very easily. During the conversation I got lots of information and readings about indigenous people and REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in developing countries.) We even began to discuss possible intern opportunities. All in all it was a very fulfilling and engaging conversation. After my first day all I want to do is get back to the conference, learn more, and meet more people.

YOUNGO is the Youth Non-Governmental Organization constituency at COP18. YOUNGO meetings are quite different than a traditional constituency member meeting. As a youth I decided to attend one of these meetings, which took place in one of the larger meeting rooms. What was interesting about this meeting was that instead of sitting in the chairs, all of the youth gathered in a big circle on the floor. This represented the difference between our generation and older generations; we are willing to do things differently. This meeting, combined with my interaction with other youth from  around the world who are attending the conference, has given me hope for the future. There are many young people besides myself here at the conference and every single one of us is passionate, respectful, and ready for whatever challenges may be in our futures. It is exciting to see so much positive energy focused on climate change.

The YOUNGO constituency gathering,
Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres answering question for YOUNGO.

The conference emits a very exciting and positive vibe. Attendees here seem to be excited and eager to talk and share information with anyone who is interested. I also have felt that as a youth I have an advantage, the advantage being that people tend to be willing and excited to share information with a young person. After my first day I am excited and ready for whatever these next two weeks will bring.


  1. That was one big circle of youth! The circle formation must have promoted more interaction, a definite plus! Were there accommodations for attendees who were not mobile enough to sit on the floor? I'd be interested to hear how the conference is handling accessibility. They must be on the forefront with such an impressive facility. You've really conveyed the energy and momentum of this meeting. Great post!

  2. Great post! Very interesting. It is heartening to hear about all the enthusiasm among the conference attendees! You did a great job of conveying the excitement and mood of the event! Thank you.