It is been a crazy two weeks. Time flew by so quickly, I’ve slept 3 hours a night, never sat down to eat and had very little time to reflect, yet I feel like I’ve done nothing.
However, the Canadian Youth Delegation as a team has done a lot of work. We’ve launched negotiators suits, sent an apology letter to the South African people on behalf of the Canadian government, bought back our future, welcomed the environment minister, turned our backs on Canada during the minister’s speech, sent out very strong newsletters and podcasts, and inspired a lot of youth delegates to do the same.
However, now as I am starting to assess progress after the “action hangover”, I feel pretty low. Granted some of us have done more work than others, but we all worked well together as a team. We set a plan and some targets and it is not an exaggeration to say that we reached them. We got the media attention we aimed for; we inspired other delegates and youth at home, we got the Canadian environment minister, in an unprecedented move, to publish an op-ed to in the local paper refuting our claims, but we didn’t really change the outcome of the negotiations. Was that really the point though? How effective is influence if it not followed by real action at home? But then again what is the best way to affect change?
The Canadian government has seriously embarrassed us internationally and basically, openly ignored the people. Our government is playing around with policies and gambling away with our future and that of the planet, as they approve a new $9 billion tar sands development without even consulting with communities who are directly affected. Is this a failure? Does anything we did really matters when a day before the end of negotiations we get this news like a slap in the face? How and why is this even fair and okay? I’d say it is not at all, but how much does it matter and who cares, who is even listening?
I am angry, I was and still angry but I think it is important not to cave in.
By getting discouraged and slowing down, I am declaring defeat. But the game is not over; I think it is too early to give up!
What we have done at COP this year is probably the best a Canadian delegation have done. It is certainly the best any delegation here has done, others even followed our lead and many thanked us for our courage and for fighting the good fight. And it is a fight, it is not granted nor is it meant to be smooth or easy. And sometimes, it gets hurtful, ugly and depressing. So few months ago I joined 17 other people who chose to take this road and move this fight to the next level, and I am hopeful we will.