Article 6 & La Isla Hundida

Youth delegates are still easy to spot in the ever-growing crowds at Cancun Messe and the Moon Palace– yes, because they’re young… but also because they’re wearing gold stars.

When negotiations began last week on Article 6 (related to education, training and public awareness), the Chair of the Working Group, in somewhat patronizing jest, told youth delegates championing Article 6 that they’d deserve a gold star if consensus was reached on the text in Cancun. Just a few days later, agreement on Article 6 was announced. It marked the first consensus achieved at COP16.

“The most significant aspect of the consensus text,” according to a press release from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, is that it “includes the promotion of youth participation as well as that of major groups in the climate change processes. It also urges the development of national and regional projects for the implementation of Article 6 and the promotion of formal and non-formal education on climate change.”

In the spirit of Article 6, last week Spanish artist Javier Velaso and I spent two days putting on climate change workshops at the International American School of Cancun as part of the La Isla Hundida (the Drowned Island) project. The interactive sustainable art and education project, as its name suggests, aims to raise children’s awareness of the vulnerability of island nations to climate-change-induced sea level rise.

Over the course of the workshop the students (ages 8-17) showed enthusiastic concern over the issue that’s caused such swarms of negotiators to descend upon their hometown. I was truly impressed by their attentiveness and active participation during the climate science portion of the workshop and touched by the creative care they took in crafting their mini newspaper islands during the artistic segment.

Today, Luz Perez (FES spouse) and I helped organize an Isla Hundida event in the tourist-trafficked Plaza Forum. The event coincided with other highly-visible actions organized by civil society (like Via Campesina’s march on the Moon Palace) designed to attract media attention. After all, as YCEI’s own Dr. Pachauri noted during our side event last week, “the only superpower in the world today is public opinion.”

Collage compiled from workshop photos, work of Javier Velaso, and online submissions from around the world. See the Isla Hundida website or Facebook page for more-- it was too hard to choose!