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Climate Change & Climate Science
Diane Shisk &
Janet Kabue
January 20 & 21

Ongoing Connections at COP23

I attended COP23 (the 2017 United Nations climate talks) in Bonn, Germany, as part of the Sustaining All Life (SAL) delegation.

On my first day, I went to an event organized by a friend I had met while campaigning against air pollution in London, England. It was a great chance to hear about anti-gas protests around the world and connect with her and other activists. We were both busy working for our own delegations, but we managed to find time to hold a placard together about our home campaign, “Stop Killing Londoners,” in front of the United Kingdom pavilion.

I invited her to my SAL youth workshop, and she and three others of her delegation attended—along with ten other people, from Northern Ireland, Senegal, Benin, and elsewhere. That day the SAL delegation, twenty-five people, met climate activists from almost fifty different countries.

At the workshop I could see everyone letting their shoulders down and relaxing as I explained that it was not a space for self-promotion or networking but rather somewhere to share personal feelings about environmental destruction and about being at this international conference.

Later in the week I bumped into [encountered] my friend again. She used my attention to feel scared and think over how to face up to [confront] her colleague about the sexism in their relationship. He was treating her like his personal assistant, not a co-worker, in their meetings at COP23. I said she could come and cry with me after her meeting, but she decided not to at that time. I made clear that the offer was still there, and later in the week she joined me and another Co-Counsellor as we vented our frustrations about restrictive parts of the conference. It was new to be interacting in this way with activists I had been alongside in protests and meetings back home, and a highlight to be introducing them to SAL.

Sustaining All Life quickly became a place for people to come to and talk, express feelings, and feel at home. Our bright SAL t-shirts made us stand out. People often approached us and immediately shared their thoughts or feelings, only later explaining that they already knew about our project and understood at least part of the process we were sharing.

At every COP that SAL has attended, a few people come to almost everything we offer. Once they understand what we are offering and see its use for them, they want more. They get to know our whole team and become connected to us, and it’s hard to say goodbye to them at the end of the COP.

Some of them have begun to build RC Communities in their home countries, and, because of their climate work, we may see them at the COPs every year. In Marrakech, Morocco (COP22), and Bonn, Germany (COP23), we welcomed them to become part of our team, and they joined us in sharing RC tools.

Since learning RC at COP21 in Paris, France, Felix Nkam has built an RC Community from scratch [where there were no other Co-Counselors] in Cameroon. Re-evaluation Counseling is growing the fastest in Africa, and Felix’s work in making human connections—at the conferences and all across Cameroon and francophone Africa—has been invaluable. It was a pleasure to work with him again and have him on our team.

Each evening I was thankful to come back together with our delegation. With a lot to do and little time, we were amazingly light. We kept our attention out and managed to make each other laugh while dealing with serious topics and juggling many jobs and a complex U.N. bureaucratic system. Thanks to Anne Helgedagsrud and Marijke Wilmans for organising us, and Teresa Enrico and Wytske Visser for leading us.

Liam Geary Baulch

London, England

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders in the care of the environment

(Present Time 191, April 2018)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00