The first day of the UN Climate Conference in Lima!
It was absolutely crazy today as everyone arrived for the first day of the 20th Conference of the Parties (COP20) in the San Borja district of Lima. As we walked into the venue, we were stunned by the sheer size of the conference, whose meeting rooms, plenary sessions, national pavilions, restaurants and delegation centers were all created over a period of only 6 weeks to house the thousands of people and events at the conference.
The day's events included an opening session in which Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, and Manuel Pugar-Vidal, President Designate of COP20, addressed negotiators, press, observers and NGO members alike to kick off the next two weeks of advocacy, activism and negotiation.
One of my favorite moments of the day was visiting all of the national pavilions located in a huge tent at the back of the conference center. Anyone passing by the Peru Pavilion was able to take a photo with a model wearing a Peruvian dress, designed by one of Peru's most famous fashion designers with only recycled paper (picture above). Also at the Peru Pavilion were multiple agricultural products grown in the country (such as cocoa beans and "Brazilian" nuts), displayed to showcase Peru's commitment to agricultural sustainability.
This commitment to agricultural sustainability inspired me to attend a talk titled "Adaptation & Agroecology: Women's Strategies for Climate Change." The talk focused on how women in agricultural or pastoralist communities are adapting to the negative effects of climate change in this line of work. Many of these women address these unique challenges using permaculture techniques, a branch of ecological design which works to develop sustainable architecture designs and agricultural systems modeled after natural ecosystems.
For example, women and men in San Burua, Kenya have begun to implement rain harvesting techniques to deal with long periods of drought. To do this they collect rain water in a large tank, thereby creating water reserves to use during long periods of little to no rain.
Another example can be found in Peru, where half a million people in the central Andes region depend on a glacier for water. This glacier is projected to disappear completely in 15-20 years due to global warming. The citizens of this area have begun to prepare for the dwindling of this water supply by planting a variety of pine trees that help to retain water in the soil. They have also begun to grow papas natives (traditional potatoes) that require less water and which can be sold at a higher price.
I cannot believe I learned all of this sitting in on just one meeting! There is so much knowledge, expertise and passion to soak up here at COP20.
Stay tuned for Day 2!