Jan. 22, 2019

NGOs Speak Louder

Source: the Beijing News
Date: December 12, 2009

Reporter: Yongcheng Wang

During the global climate conference in Copenhagen, the NGO Forum was more diverse and less formal than the intense international negotiations between countries. I attended a meeting of a non-governmental environmental protection organization in Bangladesh. The main speaker maintained that in the adaptation report of the negotiation, talking about adapting to changes in terms of any single country was not enough, because many rivers were transnational, and the global climate change affected water. Therefore, in the adaptation report, inter-basin management should also be covered. The opinions of the NGOs during the conference will definitely have an impact on the negotiation.

On February 10, I went to the American Center at Copenhagen to interview representatives of the U.S. delegation and accidently saw a video dialogue between American college students at Copenhagen and American high school students of Washington State.

The dialogue started with the children from Washington, each of whom talked about the global climate change from their own point of view. The retreating glaciers, the extinction of turtles, water pollution, and extreme weather were mentioned. The next question attracted my attention. A little girl from Washington asked, “If the Copenhagen agreement is not signed, what will you do? “

Facing the video cameras, the American college students at Copenhagen replied, “Who knows about solar energy?” The high school students raised their hands. “Who knows about wind energy?” The students on the other side raised their hands again. The university students then said that they would not compromise. They would go back and write to the senators, pressing them to take actions for the climate change.

A student in Washington asked the students in Copenhagen, “Is the Copenhagen conference what you imagined it to be?” A university student replied, “I didn’t expect so many people around the world to be concerned about the global climate change. Also, I didn’t expect I would get to know so many people from all over the world who want to do something about the global climate change. We now have a network which includes many young people from countries like India, China, and Africa and other regions. We will work together.”

Approved by the organizer, I also asked the high school students in Washington two questions. The first question, “Do you know what the impact of the global (climate) change has on China?” The second question, “Do you know the Yangtze River in China?” The children raised their hands, one of whom shouted out, “The Yangtze is the world's third longest river!”

Recently, right outside the hall where the negotiation took place, I saw a large group of young people sitting outside the door, each of whom was holding a cardboard sign which read “Please give us a chance.” I also saw a number of people serving in non-governmental organizations, who were dressed up as trees with the note “Please give us room to survive.” The Chinese youth delegation could also be seen everywhere outside the hall. They would like to tell people that western China is seriously influenced by the global climate change, and it needs international attention.

Unlike inter-government negotiations, non-governmental organizations can not reach an agreement, based on which laws and regulations can be implemented. What NGOs can do is to advocate, take actions, influence more people with their ideas. It is still unknown whether the governments can finally reach an agreement in Copenhagen, but the voices of the NGOs have definitely become increasingly loud.

Translator:   Lan BAO
Proofreader: Ryan  

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