COP 14: “The World’s Largest Waiting Room”

This statement, paraphrased to describe the 14th Conference of the Parties at Poznan by Margareta Wahlstrom, the newly appointed Assistant Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction was followed by an essential question: are we waiting with anticipation or are we waiting with foreboding?

Until as recently as 5 hours ago, I would have said the general sense was of foreboding. A sense of foreboding that originates from considering the issues that we are currently facing, such as the lack of political leverage at many levels, the prejudice and difficulty in communication across topics, sectors and regions, the lack of information regarding cost-benefit analysis, the limited resources and institutional capacity at the local sites and the unclear financial mechanisms –along with the problems already mentioned in previous comments within this blog. Additionally, we are now faced with an impending sense of urgency as we realize that our actions have been based upon an erroneous timeframe. That we (even Stern has confirmed this now) expected to have much more time to act than we actually do, and that if we want to accomplish our goals we are going to have to act fast.

Now, after the bleakness of the previous paragraph, why would I now say I wait in anticipation? Because I have been witness to amazing people and fascinating panels and presentations that show a passionate, committed and very capable group of individuals that are giving all they have to offer to this cause. That they are here because they believe in a better world than we have now and that they are willing to embrace the challenge of making that happen. This is certainly not an easy task, nor will it be done quite as many of us would hope, but it does not mean that we are not acting towards it. It means that we are doing the best we can and, hopefully, influencing those who aren’t to catch up. Idealistic? Yes. Is this utopia? Perhaps, but why not give it a chance? It gives us something to strive for.

I certainly agree with Will in wondering how genuine these efforts are when there is such a seemingly cold approach to these issues by those that have the power of change in their hands. I certainly believe that there are a few who could be more conscious of their actions, more consistent with their thoughts. But, at the same time, I think those that aren’t that way are the quieter minds and perhaps even the unknown faces (and forces) that we have not yet noticed but that are affected by these images and are acting consistently in ways we may not even realize. I believe they are out there. And in here.

And I also agree with Murefu. One of the side events I had the opportunity to attend on the Amazon forest people and REDD mechanisms precisely addressed this issue. There is something definitely wrong with this process, but then I would like to revert to a question offered by Margaret Arnold, Head of the ProVention Consortium: at this point, and with the urgency of our predicament, can we really afford the time to change the system or should we simply adjust to a flawed system and act now? I don’t know the answer to this, but I think it’s a fair consideration.

The phrase I have heard the most? The future is now. The present is now. Repeatedly in the past, our societies have reached a crossroads that indicate it is a time for change. Well, maybe this is it, our real chance at change. To hear Margareta Wahlstrom (a person who’s been in this field for decades now) say 3 hours ago this time it will be different… Well, that makes a difference to me. Maybe this is it, we really do have to believe that it is.