Doha is such a beautiful city. The city skyline has popped up in the just the last five years and it is continually growing, evolving, and, might I say, becoming more shiny. Each morning, I will be taking the shuttle bus from the area where my hotel is and past this gorgeous view. Each evening as we head back, the boats on the docks are lit up with what we would call “Christmas light” and they illuminate the water, complementing the reflection of the skyline.
We arrived at the Qatar Foundation Student Center, again tagging along with the AYCM, and prepared to start our day at COY8.
Following our opening session, different regions broke out to discuss their strategies and various approaches to create an impact on the negotiations. We mainly discussed the ways that we would like to slightly shift our focus from putting pressure on politicians to corporations who, in our eyes, are one of the many reasons behind dirty politics due to dirty money. The map seen in the background will be decorated by all of us with places that are environmental issues. As a youth coming to the conference from Texas, I will be adding the Tar Sands Blockade to the map and hopefully garnering International awareness of the struggle we are fighting on the ground. Our friends from Canada are from Alberta- so they know first hand the impact of the Tar Sands on our land, our health, and our climate.
After highlighting how the 3 different U.S. delegations and 3 different Canadian groups synthesized solutions and actions, we moved back into the main conference room for a panel session led by AYCM and QEERI. “The problem is not resources. The problem is about willingness,” said a youth delegate from Lebanon from AYCM during their panel session regarding the education system in Arabic countries in regards to climate change. An issue addressed by an 18 year old youth delegate from Oman was that in order for most of them to continue their education they must be outsourced to the United States. She will be attending University of Colorado to study chemical engineering and one of the other panelists is already attending law school in the States. Their main answers were that not only were they not getting enough informal education to those who couldn’t afford private institutions (I was informed by a young Syrian, currently residing in Doha, that unless your parents work for the government you have to pay for your education). I could go on a rant about U.S. education system, but I will save that for personal conversations rather than getting on my soapbox on the internet.
After the panel, we had 4 different breakout sessions. The first one that I attended stood out the most. The youth from New Zealand have started a project called Connected Voices that aims to gather stories from youth around the world who were unable to attend the conference and have their voices be heard by negotiators and the world at large.
Following breakouts (which ranged from finance to reproductive health), all youth were gather together once more to discuss our collective strategy and went through a visioning session. What are our strengths/tools/resources? What are our weaknesses/challenges? There was general consensus that we have the passion, the will, and the ability to listen to one another, but that perhaps our limited resources and lack of response from negotiators were barriers that we all faced. The next thing I heard repeated over and over in the room was that we needed to keep fighting. Yes, this is not easy. No, we will not get everything done that we want. No, our negotiators will probably not make the decisions that we need them to. No, we will not give up.
As we came to these powerful conclusions, we had a special visitor:
Executive Secretary Christiania Figueres thanked us for getting to the negotiations and told us how much she appreciated our perseverance and encouraged us to continue putting on the pressure, not to give up, and to keep fighting for our futures. Overall- it was a really nice way to synthesize the events from the day into one powerful moment.
I do not drink coffee. Never have. COY has been so fun, fulfilling, and tiring that I drank a cup of mocha. Woah. For those who know me, this is a big deal.
For now, Aloha from Doha.