By Will van de Pol, RMIT Scholar
The theme of our first day at COP23 was finance - perhaps not the most exciting topic for some, but fitting that I should be assigned to wrap up the day, as I believe that shifting finance and investment is integral to drive the transition to a low carbon economy.
After registering to receive our official observer passes, Alice, Global Voices Environment and Sustainability Program Coordinator gave us delegates a tour of the massive, dual-zoned conference space. The sheer size was awe-inspiring enough, let alone the bustle and vibrancy of both the Bula negotiating zone and the Bonn zone, which housed country and NGO stalls as well as side events.
We were then left to our own devices, so I headed to a presentation hosted by the UN Environment Program Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), which focused on the risks and opportunities climate change poses to financial institutions.
At midday, we were lucky enough to meet with Rod Campbell from the Australia Institute, whose frank insights into the interrelation between international policy and domestic politics were appreciated, as was his idea to meet outside during a brief period of sunshine.
While I headed off to a couple more climate finance-related events in the afternoon, some of the other delegates were lucky enough to score a chance meeting with the COP23 President, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.
In the evening, the whole group met with Martijn Wilder AM, a world-renown climate change lawyer from Baker Mackenzie. Martijn’s legal career and achievements are quite outstanding, and he has also held positions on boards including WWF, ARENA and the CEFC. His advice about sticking to the field you love and being a good and genuine person was important for us to hear from someone who has had as much success as Martijn.
The first day at COP23 proved to be a fascinating experience and I can't wait for the action packed days ahead.