COP23 Reflection by Sanchi Sharma

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

By Sanchi Sharma – 3A SERS – COP23 (Bonn, Germany)

Sanchi SharmaIt has always been a dream of mine to attend a United Nations conference as I was intrigued with how such vast number of professionals from various disciplines come together to create impactful decisions. In the summer of 2017, I came across profiles of students from COP22 and was motivated to apply this year. In September 2017, I was sent an email to participate in COP23 which was held in Bonn, Germany and in early October 2017, I was selected to be a part of week 1's (Nov 6-11, 2017) team. COP23 was unique this year because Fiji was presiding this conference and that is the first country from the South Pacific to do so. Also, the adverse impacts of climate change have been seen in Fiji and other small neighboring nations. Attending COP23 in Bonn, Germany is one of the most memorable moments of my life. I was very honored to hear Ms. Catherine Stewart speak, who is the chief negotiator for Climate Change Canada. She expressed the plans and goals Canada planned to achieve at COP23. I was fortunate to hear many well-known personalities speak at the conference, the ones who truly made an impact were Al Gore and Anote Tong.

Changing minds not the climate poster art mural on the wall.One of my many interests is learning about waste management and women rights. I was very fortunate to be admitted into SERS in 2014 because this program is very flexible and provided me the opportunity to take courses like waste management and women studies. While attending COP23, I had the chance to attend side events. I chose the side events that were related to my interested and my program as I hoped to use that information for classes/projects in the future. I attended COP23 with the purpose of acquiring more knowledge in the fields of sustainable energies that are being implemented, waste management practices and how women are being affected the most by climate change. I attended events where the panel had speakers from various disciplines and countries and they explained what each nation or organization is doing to reduce their emissions and become more sustainable. This was interesting because many new ideas and perspectives were being introduced with the potential of being implemented closer to home. However, amongst those three topics, I heard a side event where Anote Tong who was the former president of the small island Kiribati and he was speaking about displacement. His concern was that his small country and alongside other small islands will be underwater indefinitely in the next few decades and how no policies have been discussed which will make the process a lot smoother. Displacement through climate change is not widely discussed, and by attending this side, the event helped me realize that this sector of climate change needs more attention. As graduation is approaching, I was conflicted on what my thesis or research seminar topic should be. However, attending COP23 has helped me decide on a matter that relates back to climate change displacement as it left such an impactful impression. I want to learn more about how it affects other communities across the globe that are most vulnerable to climate change.

Entrance to the Fuji Pavilion.I was very privileged to be chosen to attend COP23 as I had the chance to learn about issues about countries and organizations that I might have not learned otherwise. I am hoping to use the information I gained from COP23, and the knowledge I have learned in SERS to spread a positive message of being sustainable which may help mitigate climate change and help preserve resources for our future generations.

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