Copenhagen Day 3 - a forest of negotiations

IUCN's Senior forest expert Carole Saint-Laurent takes a little time to sit back and reflect in the buzzing conference center, and gives us food for thought.

IUCN at COP 14 Photo: Elizabeth Willetts

Sitting here in the Bella Centre coffee lounge outside of the Karen Blixen room, what do I see?

I see thousands of pages of paper floating around, some of it negotiating text, lots of it telling me what needs to be done about climate change – from eating a vegetarian diet to protecting and restoring forests to changing our inner spiritual landscapes to mobilizing unprecedented levels of funding.

I see all different types of people here, including groups of besuited negotiators and a guy sleeping on the floor. It makes me wonder why we, this disparate group, are all here together at this time. I’m thinking that it’s because almost all of us believe that climate change is a major threat to people and/or nature and that this gathering here in Copenhagen could be, must be, a turning point in responding to this threat.

But how can this circus of people and interests and ideas be transformed into a new global deal on climate change? On forests, it’s feasible. Especially if negotiators and lobbyists alike can stop arguing with each other about the meaning of words and keep their attention focused instead on making sure the agreement will catalyze the right kinds of actions involving all those who should be involved while safeguarding against unintended negative impacts. Isn’t that what we all want?

They say you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. But maybe, with the right approach you can make something that’s beautiful in its own way. I sure hope so.

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