Heading to COP

We are all first year Master of Development Practice (MDP) candidates and interested in the influence of climate change as it relates to development.

After hearing about how Elizabeth May attended the negotiations in Warsaw with the delegation from Afghanistan, we were inspired to try and make it to the negotiations in Paris. We decided to contact several Small-Island Developing States (SIDS) in the hopes that we could both help them at COP (we have very diverse backgrounds – communications, political science, and ecology) and have a positive learning experience.

Kiribati was the state we were most interested in, as the country and its President Anote Tong have provided an interesting and powerful perspective at the global negotiations. SIDS stand lose the most from the impacts of climate change such as rising sea levels (the highest point of elevation in the Republic of Kiribati is about 3 metres above sea level), and if climate change continues Kiribati will be completely submerged within 50 years.

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We will be assisting the delegation by attending thematic group sessions, taking notes, and potentially providing advice to the leading officer depending on our backgrounds in certain subjects. We hope to increase the overall presence of the delegation and to help in whatever capacity we can. We also hope to coordinate with the University of Waterloo team in communicating the importance of these negotiations and climate change to the greater community.

We’re very excited to represent a smaller island state because climate change is not only an environmental problem but it also affects the larger issues of development as a whole. As MDP candidates, we are always trying to strengthen the connections between various disciplines, thus, engaging in climate change is definitely value added. Moreover, those most vulnerable to climate change often have the smallest voices in these negotiations and are the least responsible for the actual effects of climate change.

Additionally, rising sea levels are a serious threat to Kiribati and other small island nations. Kiribati will likely be be the first country to be completely submerged in the Pacific and environmental migration is therefore a pressing issue. Citizens of the country have already begun assimilating and adapting to new environments and seeking refuge elsewhere.

Check out this TEDTalk by President Tong as he discusses Kiribati’s plea to have international cooperation to combat the adverse impacts of climate change.

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