By Samuel Edge, Murdoch University
The second week of our conference started on an elevate note, the $100 Billion target had been reviewed and agreed upon: the Warsaw Mechanism’s review had reached its conclusion. A surprise, given the expectation that talks would continue well into 2017. This was progress. Not the sort of ground shattering, earth-rendering change that the conclusion of Paris was said to be, but things were progressing.
The best ideas presented at the COP so far have tended to come from the side events – away from the politics. Following my research on Finance, I found a number of highly informative sessions held by the Parties in their respective pavilions. One such example was a talk on financing South-South Cooperation projects and the likely direction for the region, in light of current and ongoing climate talks. Included in this group were directors from the Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology, each providing a unique insight to the likely direction for development in the region, where the financing was expected to be sourced from and how public financing (from the UNFCCC Mechanisms) could assist in creating the space for private investment.
It has been interesting seeing how diplomats, civil servants and politicians appear to conduct themselves differently, with variances in style and motivation. Where the Ambassador and his/her associates will meet with stakeholders or interested parties for candid talks and light speeches, a Minister or Elected Representative will organise events for political gain and media attention. For example, many would consider gathering a number of engaged young delegates to discuss their views with various Environmental, Youth and Economic Ministers, an excellent opportunity to inform current leaders of young desires and nurture the development of future policy-makers. However, when such an event follows a script, the youth voices pre-selected from a chosen few and those who do speak are handed the microphone with reluctance, one questions the sincerity of a ‘commitment to climate change’ when those most effected have no voice.
The following day saw a number of high-level meetings of note. The first, with the CEO of 1 Million Women, Natalie Isaacs, who provided an excellent narrative on the capacity for a small change individual to enact a larger, national response. The second meeting was with Minister for the Environment and Energy, Josh Frydenberg, and his staff. Finally, my first (hopefully of many) cocktail event with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Minister Frydenberg and members of DFAT, for the various invited Australian stakeholders attending the COP and organised by the Carbon Market Institute.
As we've moved through the conference we've learned the ins and outs of COP22 and are beginning to more naturally offer our business cards to new and interesting people. Hopefully it will bear fruits – either way, we’ve enjoyed the ride. As we conclude this whirlwind adventure of unimaginable access and exposure to international affairs and diplomacy, I must say a massive 'Thank You' to the Global Voices team and our respective universities for creating this opportunity.