Reflections on COP 19, Warsaw

by Lydia Mogano

COP 19 took place in Warsaw, Poland, 11-22 November 2013.

The opening of COP 19 in Warsaw was marked by a terrible  catastrophe, a typhoon in the Philippines, which underlined the urgent need to respond to environmental and climatic change. It was my first experience at a climate negotiations event, and the overall experience was not as positive as I had anticipated. For example, although the COP president strongly emphasised the need to facilitate an open, transparent and inclusive process in the spirit of cooperation, the negotiation process did not move fast enough to achieve substantial accomplishments in Warsaw. Moreover, there was no sense of urgency in the processes. Although science can investigate and validate climate change causes, impacts and responses, gaining political will to respond accordingly remains the greatest limitation. In the course of the two weeks of the COP, frustration and despair became evident among various  participants, especially civil society representatives (including  youth), since hopes for a positive COP outcome were high.

I focused on daily devotional activities as well as identifying positive side events and meetings that could provide messages of hope (including our own faith gatherings). Faith-based reactions to global climate change are scaling up globally. For example, our faith youth constituency initiated a common call to voluntary fasting in solidarity with the victims and survivors of the typhoon in the Philippines and called for intergenerational justice.

Interestingly, although none of the Chairs at COP 19 was female, I was inspired when our minister Edna Molewa was tasked with providing leadership and a way forward on the ADP process. The South African delegation also opened its doors to civil society organisations, and I was proud to be South African.

Despite the overall unsatisfactory outcome of Warsaw, I learnt a great deal and I am even more determined to making positive changes and input in my community and country as a whole. May we all find the strength to persevere, and not shrink back from addressing the environmental and socioeconomic challenges in our communities.