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NEWS / Acclimatise Eyewitness: In Bogotá, young Latin American climate leaders are preparing for COP20
Category: Features, Government & Policy

Image by barbourians

By Antoine Ebel

Editor’s note: With the next UN climate conference (COP19) fast approaching, preparations are already being made for COP20 due to be held in Peru next year. Antoine Ebel reports from the CliMates, Regional Workshop in Colombia. 

This week, CliMates, an international student-led climate think-tank, is organising a Regional Workshop in Bogotá, Colombia, focusing on the climate issues of the Latin America & Caribbean (LAC) region, with the specific aim of giving Latin American youth the chance to prepare (well in advance!) for the 20th round of UN climate negotiations (COP20), which will be hosted by Peru in 2014. Through skill and knowledge-sharing sessions, participants from all corners of the region will reinforce their capacity to provoke change and influence decisions at all levels, and construct a common strategy to strengthen their action throughout 2014. 

On Monday, the opening ceremony at Universidad Javeriana offered a perfect blend of climate science, youth optimism, 'adult' realism and policy innovations, in a way setting the tone for the entire week. I had the stressful pleasure of addressing the audience in Spanish for a keynote speech, emphasising the need for global solidarity of young people on this issue, and the necessity for my generation to meet the challenge of climate change before it gets in the way of realising our own aspirations. I then gave the floor to a diverse range of speakers that included Manuel Guzman Hennessey, of Climate Action Network-Latin America, elaborating on the role of the "climate change generation", and 17 year-old Colombian youth, Mateo Botero, who eloquently described “how young people can go from intention to action.” 

The day continue with a very energising session of "green speed dating", where participants made brief but intense encounters, falling in love not with each other, but with each other's amazing climate-related projects at home. This fantastic exercise gave way to two and a half hours of simultaneous skill and knowledge-sharing sessions, prominently featuring CliMates' own research projects and collaborative research method during the "Raising awareness on climate change" and the "Alternative ways to do research" sessions. The cherry on top of the cake was definitely the intervention of the rather unconventional guest speaker Pedro Medina, founder of Yo Creo en Colombia. His talk on "how to goof around and be happy" sent participants off with a smile on their face and bright ideas in their head. 

After an already very promising first day, the stars really lined up on Tuesday to kick-start the Workshop at full speed. A highly entertaining session on "Educommunication", teaching participants to create their own stories through their own media, put everyone's creativity on high. Two simultaneous sessions each tried to address the idiosyncrasies of the Latin American climate context - on the one hand learning to empower the poorest communities the region to tackle climate change head on, and on the other adapting Al Gore's famous "climate reality" presentation to a Latin American audience. 

In the afternoon, all participants built a timeline, enumerating all of the crucial events and deadlines for climate action in the region in the run-up to COP20. They then performed a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of the Latin American youth climate movement, identifying some key ways in which better cooperation, stronger communication and bolder innovation could increase the influence of an already incredibly diverse and dynamic regional movement.  

This soul-searching exercise gave way to many questions: should we try to create yet another network across the region? Should we instead commit to some practical actions and collaborations until COP20? How can we focus our efforts while tackling the broad spectrum of climate action, from the most local level to international negotiations? The following days should bring answers to these questions, and more. 

Stay tuned through the #CRWBogota2013 hashtag, and check out the week’s program here.



Antoine Ebel is a member of the Acclimatise Contributor Network. He is the President of CliMates, an international, student-led think-and-do-tank elaborating and implementing innovative solutions to climate change through collaborative research and action projects around the world.