It was a breathless day in sunny Durban on December 7th 2011 when I joined the 17th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 7th Meeting of Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is the only legally binding international document to reduce the CO2 emissions which will hopefully be extended passed 2012.
There have been numberous negative remarks that COP17 is a failure and not worth all the effort but as I made my way through the bustling city of Durban, welcomed by several green banners along the streets, I was overcome with a sense of great excitement and feeling of hope.
I spent the morning at the Docklands Hotel at an extremely interesting lecture titled “How can SA move to a low carbon economy when we have been addicted to coal for so long?” I learnt so much about my country’s dependence on coal and the impact that coal mining has on all South Africans. My article summarizing what I learnt at the lecture can be found below, and is titled “People of the World! We have a problem!”
I took a short walk through the Exhibition Centre that was filled with a variety of South African and International stands all promoting how they are acting in order to make our planet a greener place. It was fantastic to see how innovative and creative people are, but mostly how many passionate people there are out there who are linking resources, knowledge and ideas to save our planet. This reminded me of the power of the Young Explorers Program, as we are also from all the corners of the world and have different resources, knowledge and ideas and using the platform of the YEP we are able to join them all together.
The beautiful city of Durban was extremely well prepared for the masses that flocked for the conference. There were three bus routes with buses that ran every 15minutes transporting people to all COP17 venues and promoting public transport. And if you were feeling up to it, there was the chance to hire bicycles in order ride around utilising zero emission transport. The Durban municipality was showcasing their use of greener technology such as solar panels in hostels, wind turbines, LED traffic lights and electric bikes all adaption projects that will restore ecosystems as well as create employment. Urban food gardens, grey water reuse in informal settlements and the conversion of landfill gas to electricity were also extremely impressive.
I came across a stand that particularly caught my attention, Greenpop. Started only 14 months ago, this social enterprise runs urban greening and reforestation projects in sub-Saharan Africa. They plant trees in schools, communities and deforested areas with the aim to spread environmental awareness, uplift under-greened communities, make greening enjoyable and combat climate change. For more information visit their impressive website http://www.greenpop.org/ . I plan to work with them in the future, linking my school and the enthusiastic youth to become involved and green our cities.
Being a part of COP17 was a great opportunity and a privilege. COP18 will take place from 26 November to 7 December 2012 in Qatar and hopefully more Young Explorers will be able to attend and we as the Young Explorers Program can showcase our collected knowledge on our changing environment from our expeditions and represent the power of the youth.
- Date: December 2011
- Location: Durban, South Africa