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  • Leaving on a high! The 8th blog from COP 23

    Posted on November 19, 2017

    The entrance to the Bonn Zone on the final day

    How time flies when you are enjoying yourself though somehow the end came almost too suddenly and as I walked away from the Bonn Zone on Friday afternoon and left behind the memories of all the great people I had met during the previous 2 weeks, I felt a distinct tinge of sadness. Having said that, the final hours at this COP were extremely memorable.
    I mentioned in my last blog an event to be hosted by Kiribati on the final (Thursday) evening which I went to and it proved to be extremely colourful with some young Kiribas kids performing a wonderful spectacle for the full house before the current President rose to his feet to tell us about their implementation plan in the face of climate change.

    The entrance to the Bonn Zone on the final day

    The President and First Lady of Kiribati

    Earlier in the afternoon, while at our stand, I noticed a lady watching the film ‘Troubled Waters’ very intently on the screen and I suddenly realised that it was Pelenise Alofa who appears in the film. She hadn’t seen it before so was rather surprised to find she was watching herself! She was thrilled to know we were highlighting the issues of the Kiribas! At the evening event the music started and the audience was invited to join in the dancing. It was inevitable that I should end up doing just that with Penelise!

    Pelenise Alofa at our stand

    And so to the final day of this heart-warming COP. Mary Robinson had said, the previous day, that the Bonn Zone really should have been called the Bula Zone and vice versa. Bula means Welcome in English and the warmth of the welcome each day has been very special. For a start there are a team of young volunteers delivering free bars of chocolate to every delegate. They were promoting the planting of a trillion trees worldwide which in itself would reduce carbon emissions by 30%. For every 5 bars sold one tree would be planted.

    The Fijians gave us a musical welcome every morning

    On this day there was dancing in the Indigenous Peoples Pavilion, guitars and a ukulele being played in the Fiji Pavilion and yet more free coffee next door in the German Pavilion. But I had some serious business to attend to in the UK Pavilion opposite with their and our last side event. But before this I had arranged a one to one (a bilateral in Whitehall speak!) with Claire Perry, the UK Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, to tell her about INTO and why we were at the COP (s). Like so many others she did not know of our existence and was delighted to hear what we do, particularly in the field of intangible heritage. She was concerned that so few organisations talked about the cultural heritage at the COPs.

    Claire Perry speaking at the side event

    We went from there straight into the side event where she spoke about the Alliance with Canada and many other countries and states that she had announced the day before, all committed to phasing out coal completely by 2030 or earlier. She also talked about……
    She stayed for my presentation and that of Siteri Tikoca from Fiji before leaving for another meeting. As I bid her farewell she told me she would like to know more of the NT’s work with renewables and the Fit for the Future campaign (Keith Jones where were you?). She was also extremely interested to hear of the work being done in Fiji, Zimbabwe and the Cayman Islands all of which I had talked about in my presentation. “My door is open” she said! I hope she may be able to attend the 10th Anniversary party in London next week.

    The other speakers: L to R Leire Gorrono (Nordic Folkecenter), Siteri Tikoca (Nature Fiji), OCM, Sarah Queblatin (GEN Philippines), Andrew Potts (ICOMOS)

    The event was the best attended of all, lots of questions at the end and some useful contacts including from the Maldives, and the Philippines and Kiribati where they are trying to establish a means to record their intangible heritage. I feel a trip to the South Pacific coming on!!
    And so I walked away from the Conference Centre for the last time reflecting on the many new contacts I had made and the very positive vibes received from the ‘quality’ audiences (rather than quantity) who had learnt about INTO and its members’ work for the first time. My grateful thanks to my colleagues, Keith Jones and Andrew Potts for their support throughout.
    As to the outcomes at a higher level, the main purpose was to move forward on the Paris Agreement – the Talanoa Dialogue as it was called – leading up to 2020 by which time, as agreed, carbon emissions must peak. That also involves countries ramping up their National Determined Contributions (NDCs) to ensure global temperature rise remains around or below 1.5°. It is encouraging that pre-2020 action became a focus of the discussions, helped, ironically, by all the extreme weather events that have taken place in the months leading up to COP 23.
    Next year’s COP will be held in Katowice, Poland or ‘’Coaland’’ as some have dubbed it since the Polish government seems very reluctant to do as the UK and Canada have done.

    A Fijian lady showing that a bottom-up approach is the way forward!

    Oliver Maurice – 19 Nov 2017

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