December 22, 2009

The End of the Beginning

After a rollercoaster fourteen days the Kenyan delegation is making its way home from COP15. It started so well, the loud and spontaneous outburst after the leaking of the “Danish Text” which effectively sunk it, our own success in meeting with the Kenyan Prime Minister, quickly followed by the Young and Future Generations Day; a massive display of unity and solidarity (and of course orange).

Then the news came, the UNFCCC was kicking us out; NGO delegates were to be severely limited to combat the “overcrowding” and “security issues”.  For those of us fortunate enough to be inside on the Tuesday and Wednesday, the change in atmosphere was palpable.  The bright colours were gone, and I’m pretty sure the remaining NGO’s and even a few party delegates missed us.

It was a disillusioning experience. During the first week we felt powerful; we had the media lapping up our every action, we pushed for meetings with our national delegates, we marched, we protested, we seemed to be everywhere. Then some faceless bureaucrat seemed to pick numbers out of a hat, and that was is it. Impotence and despair were closely followed by anger as one by one world leaders placed their national interests above our survival.

Or so I felt until the last 48 hours. Somehow the youth movement managed to regroup. First for a late-night vigil on Friday (in the Scandinavian cold – much worse than any of us could have imagined) to protest the sham announcement of a deal between major countries, and secondly for our final youth evaluation session on Sunday. The energy and passion was back. It was sadly (or vitally so depending on your view) very much tinged with the lessons of disappointment. I imagine few of us will be able to place nearly as much trust in our leaders or political process in the future having seen them fail so epically. But the drive was back, and the ideas and suggestions coming from the morning sessions had one clear message:

This is not the beginning of the end, this is if anything the end of the beginning.

The final gathering



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