Yesterday morning, delegates arriving for week two of COP 19/CMP 9 were greeted with offers of ‘Change Chocolate’: bars of carbon neutral, organic, Fairtrade chocolate handed out with a smile and a message printed on the wrapper. It read: ‘The Change Chocolate will give you all the energy you need to fight for our future during the climate negotiations’.
As fate (or chocolate?) would have it, it was also the day youth delegates had the opportunity to engage with both the current and incoming COP Presidencies.
In the first High-Level Youth Briefing, the Polish Minister of the Environment and COP President, Marcin Korolec, was represented by his Deputy, Polish Undersecretary of State, Beata Jaczewska, who was joined by Jacek Mizak, Director of the Sustainable Development Department in the Ministry of Environment and Gabriela Szuba, NGOs Liaison Officer. Ms Jaczewska reflected on the last week of the conference and conclusions reached so far, and looked ahead to the High Level Segment to take place this week. In turn, the work of YOUNGO (the constituency of youth NGOs) was briefly introduced, and a Q&A session ensued. Topics ranged from youth accreditation issues to corporate sponsorship, the question of 'clean coal' and the transparency of the ongoing loss and damage negotiations.
Later in the day, the Peruvian Minister of the Environment and incoming COP 20/CMP 10 President, Manuel Pulgar, invited the roughly 30 assembled young delegates to share their thoughts on how COP 20/CMP 10 could lay the groundwork for 2015’s legally binding agreement. The young delegates' suggestions centred around inclusiveness and meaningful observer participation. Venezuela's efforts to already involve civil society in the pre-COP preparations were commended, and Mr Pulgar assured the group that Peru would also welcome active participation from civil society, explaining that his own career (which began in an environmental law NGO) taught him that the key to success lay in openness. Moreover he felt that, as a developing country, Peru could add a new flavour to the negotiations. Perhaps not one of chocolate, but in his mind at least, one of change.