Our journey began at 9:30 am in front of the Purdue Memorial Union. We huddled into a sleek black mini-van, equipped with power outlets and leather seats, and began a comfortable ride to O’Hare international airport. The first leg of our journey over, we waited around the airport until our flight at 2:00 pm. Four hours later we arrived in Seattle. Seven hours later we arrived in Hawaii. Our exhausted team stumbled into bed at 5 am Lafayette time and 11 pm Hawaii time, but we’d made it to Honolulu and the WCC.
The World Conservation Congress, WCC, is associated with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This year is the 22nd Congress and the United States is hosting the WCC for the first time (in our president’s home state)! This year’s theme is “planet at the crossroads,” indicating just how pivotal conservation is for the earth’s future and her people.
Themes at this year’s WCC include declining biodiversity and the protection of marine resources, threatened by climate change and human intervention. The WCC sets the agenda for conservation around the globe and its final resolutions are taken up by conscientious NGOs, local governments, and nation-states. But, these resolutions are not legally binding like the COP21 Paris Agreement, and thus the influence of WCC's recommendations are hard to gauge.
Local communities, indigenous peoples, and civil society will be at the WCC striving to ensure the future of their peoples and local resources. We will be following representatives of communities as they make claims for conservation and self-governance of protected territories.
The Presence to Influence team seeks to identify and examine how historically underrepresented groups such as indigenous peoples influence policy-making and governance processes at global environmental events. The majority of protected areas are inhabited by indigenous peoples, yet their territory's resources are often governed by outside agencies and illegally encroached upon by extractive industries. Land management is changing as NGOs, governments, and organizations like the IUCN, began to realize the stewardship capabilities of indigenous communities. But even so, there are still barriers to the participation of indigenous peoples in governance processes and events like the WCC. There are unequal power relations between indigenous peoples and local and national governments. Indigenous peoples often do not have the resources or financial means to attend events like the WCC and thus are unable to share their stories and knowledge of conservation and climate change at these large international conferences. This project hopes to identify indigenous peoples' strategies for inclusion and influence in global environmental governance. We are interested in the claims for justice and recognition from indigenous peoples, such as those made at events like the WCC and the COP21.
This photo was taken today at the WCC and represents multiple interests of the team: the inclusion of indigenous knowledge and storytelling as a strategy for political influence within conservation governance.
As part of our research project, we were interested in mapping out the spaces that we collected data as well as attended various events related to COP21. Here is an interactive Google Map that displays the sites around Paris where we attended events. If you click on each site, you will be able to learn more about the event that took place at this location.
Today was our last day here at COP21 in Paris, France. Please enjoy this gallery of photos from our adventure these past two weeks.
"Nature Doesn't Need People. People Need Nature": Conservation International's Approach to Climate Change
This is the fifth in our digital ethnography series.
Written by Zachary Reaver
Throughout COP21, I have been following the online presence of Conservation International (CI). I usually wait until late in the evening to collect my data, making sure I don't miss any tweets or Facebook posts that have been made throughout the day and evening. I begrudgingly made a Twitter and Instagram account for this project, although I have been fascinated by how much all of these different types of social media are produced and consumed. For those of you who are unfamiliar with CI, it is a very large environmental nonprofit nongovernmental organization (NGO) founded in 1987 by Spencer Beebe and Peter Seligmann. Mr. Seligmann still serves as CI's CEO and is actually one of the attendees at COP21. Starting with modest beginnings, CI now has offices in over 30 countries and works with more than 1,000 other organizations, including businesses such as Starbucks and Walmart. CI tries to champion many different causes, but their main push is to emphasize the importance of nature. In the context of COP21, CI has claimed that nature can provide up to 30% of the solution for climate change in terms of restoring and maintaining forests, coastlines, etc. for carbon sequestration.
Conservation International has been very active both leading up to and during COP21. In preparation for the negotiations, CI actually released its own final position paper with specific goals, metrics, and recommended text for the final agreement on such areas as adaptation, mitigation, and finance. In addition, CI started two major "campaigns" for COP21: the first is a video series called "Nature is Speaking", in which CI has enlisted famous actors and actresses to voice various components of nature, such as Liam Neeson as Ice, Kevin Spacey as The Rainforest, and Harrison Ford as The Ocean. These videos have been released over the past year leading up to COP21, with a final video, "Home" being debuted on December 10th at the conference (by the time you read this, you should probably be able to go watch it online!). These videos are definitely worth a watch, and enforce the message that "Nature Doesn't Need People. People Need Nature." The second campaign is through social media with the hashtag #INeedNature. This campaign encourages anyone around the world to take a picture in nature and submit it to CI, either through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or their main website. CI has been collecting these photos and will also be showcasing them on December 10th at COP21. Conservation International also hosted a session at COP21 on December 8th with CEOs and chairmen of Walmart, IKEA, Agropalm, and Kellogg to discuss the importance of businesses and corporations in contributing to climate change solutions.
I think it is impressive to see the presence and influence that a non-state actor such as Conservation International can have, bringing together celebrities, CEOs, and even heads of state (Anote Tong, President of Kiribati, which is one of the most at-risk nations due to sea level rise, is a prominent CI board member) to combat climate change. I am very interested to see the final outcome of COP21 and hope that a strong agreement is made!
If you are interested in the "Nature is Speaking" and #INeedNature pictures, please see the following sites:
Written by Sarah Huang
As we come to the final days of the climate negotiations here in Paris, you can hear and see the presence of voices of masses coming together asking for more than what is currently on the table. Well as of right now, there is language to hold the temperature increase below 2 degrees C and to make efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees C. But is 1.5 enough? On any given day you can hear the chant, "1.5 to stay alive", calling for the climate agreement to set the limit to an increase of no more than 1.5 degrees C. But today, the chants and movement of people in Climate Generations was different. Instead today you could hear, "1.5 to stay alive, Black Lives Matter, We Can't Breathe, We Gon Be All Right" as a group of young black and white individuals marched around with signs saying "My Life, My Fight" and other sign. And as the crowd marched around, I heard in the crowd, "Does this have anything to do with climate change?". And to this person in the crowd, YES!
Black and brown bodies are disproportionately discriminated against in the effects of climate change. Black and brown bodies are made criminal to their very existence on this earth and are put into scenarios where their lives, experiences, and histories are delegitimized as elite, privileged, wealthy, and white majorities continue a saga of oppression. Because if we are truly honest with ourselves, the economic and political order that is built on the oppressive, imperialist, and colonialist history of most of these wealthy nations will only continue to oppress these people. But most importantly, what the Black Lives Matter movement brings to the climate justice fight, is the intentional oppression and discrimination placed on black and brown bodies as wealthy nations continue to deny their responsibility towards the destruction of environments and livelihoods.
It has been hard to hear the stories and experiences of individuals, families, and communities of indigenous peoples from all over the world as they open their hearts and their lives to strangers here at COP21. I have struggled as I try to understand how we can live in a system that continues to be ignorant of the pathways of destruction that targets communities of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities while silencing their experiences and voices. But as I hear these voices being raised in the climate spaces and throughout Paris during these past two weeks, I know that people are not dying in silence. So listen when groups and movements are aligning and to the voices saying that we can't breathe in contaminated air and we won't be silenced.
Written by Dominique Fry
This is the fourth post in our digital ethnography series
With the COP21 proceedings in Paris this week, we have been following a number of groups. My specific group is The Women’s Earth and Climate Caucus. The WECC has a project called Women's Earth & Climate Action Network, International, or WECAN for short, which is a solutions-based, multi- faceted effort established to engage women worldwide to take action as powerful stakeholders in climate change and sustainability solutions. WECAN has been a powerful force in past environmental negotiations.
WECAN participated in COP20 in Lima Peru with the Women and Gender Constituency. The group worked inside the formal negotiations and also outside of the talks in the streets along with civil society. They had panels discussing the value of women in global change and also focused on the importance of indigenous women. WECAN participated in the Lima’s Peoples March along side their Indigenous allies.
In Paris, WECAN is collaborating with the same groups inside the negotiations and also in civil society again. So far during the talks, they have had a pretty large social media presence online The main themes of all communications from Paris include emphasizing the importance of women and indigenous people in solving environmental issues and making sure women’s voices are heard. WECAN has participated in panels discussing various topics and will continue to do so next week.
I am intrigued by this group because the values of WECAN are that women are the power holders. Women need to be better represented in negotiations as well as have a louder voice. I am inspired by the values they are trying to promote and excited to see what they can do to both empower women and also bring to the table at COP21 this week in Paris.
To Learn more about WECAN International you can follow them on twitter at:
This is the third post in our digital ethnography series
Written by Rohit D Bhonagiri
This blog is also posted on Rohit's personal blog
As carbon sinks of the world, forests are the lungs of this planet and the waterways its veins. Monica Camacho, from the Rainforest Foundation Norway, provides the perfect slogan "One of the objectives of the new agreement is to reduce CO2 and the best way to do that is by conserving natural forests and natural ecosystems." Indigenous people from around the world are trying to have their voice represented although they do not receive much representation in COP21.
Indigenous communities are leading the way to combat climate change. https://t.co/rgvzCVpEFQ #COP21 #PaddletoParispic.twitter.com/pe0L5DmrJE
— WRI Governance (@WRIGovernance) December 2, 2015
I have been up early to catch up on the press briefings for the day. At 6.30AM, I'm in the library with my fellow colleagues facing a different crisis. I usually need a dose of coffee to invigorate all the five senses, today but Kelly Stone had me at 'food insecurity'. As a background, I come from the state of Maharashtra in India which has faced massive droughts in the agricultural lands of the Vidarbha. According to the Hindu my state has sees about 10 farmer suicides every day due to climate change and water and energy intensive GM (genetically modified) cotton. I consider farmers as Indigenous people especially after the rise of Big Agriculture.
Ms. Stone went on further to say that land mitigation techniques for biomass and biofuels as alternative energy sources could lead to family farmers being kicked off their lands. She also spoke on behalf of a young farmer by the name of Odunke from Nigeria who came to Paris to represent his farming community but could not address the press because he didn't have a blue pass. Odunke's community has been continuously impacted by floods and droughts and there have been years that he could only describe as "hell". I sat in class thinking about <em>shetkaris</em> (Marathi for farmers), reminiscing back to the days when I would drive out to the countryside, just to have a fresh jowarichi <em>bhakri</em>(a type of Indian bread made of white millet) picked off the field. Shawn, presenting on the Wildlife Conservation Society, broke my nostalgia short and I realized that I've seen this happen before when he showed us the image below!
Farmers and Indigenous people are the new entries in the may face extinction due to climate change category. The #paddletoparis campaign says "We are all in this boat", except this boat is the titanic and the icebergs are melting while you are on the other side, simply surviving.
Climate equity should not be a distant ideal but the fundamental basis to these negotiations. If you are reading this right now, I urge you to support the #paddletoparis movement and lend your voice to those that have none at COP21.
Conference mentioned: Moral Compass of the Paris Accord at Stake: Inter-constituency voices by Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO)
Written by Sarah Huang
I am writing this blog post firstly as a woman attending COP21. As I have been attending various events in the Climate Generations space, I have become very attuned to the ways in which various events and speakers incorporate a conversation about gender in relation to climate change.
After attending some events during REDD+ day at Rio Pavilion, I became really disheartened after the same perspective on gender was once again displayed at a prominent event funded by United Nations Development Programme. The man came across his slide on gender perspectives and actually said that we didn't need to talk about this slide because it was self explanatory and then proceeded with his presentation.
The consideration of gender equity and gendered policies within climate change should not be an afterthought, nor should it just be another item on a checklist for addressing climate solutions. Women and indigenous peoples are affected most by environmental change and climate change. Rather than aligning gendered policies with only women, we must understand that gender is an incorporation of all gendered identities, and not just male and female. We must also understand the ways in which women and LGBTQ are disproportionately impacted by climate policies that do not take into account the ways that these people are left out of the conversation, left out of protection, and left out of recognition for their roles in communities.
There are many conversations about the ways in which women are closely aligned with nature, natural resources and thus the protection of children, families and Mother Earth. There are also conversations about how women hold very specific knowledge to the use of these resources. But as one woman from Kenya put it, we need to stop valorizing women's contributions and provide them with resources to conduct action.
This perspective emphasizes the campaign for women's rights in a way that calls for recognition of the role of women, but also for the call to action that provides women with resources and tools to implement change in their communities. This is also a perspective that is seen in the many women's movements surrounded around environmental justice, climate justice, and grassroots activism. Women are on the ground implementing programs in their communities, fighting for their rights at the forefront, but oftentimes it is just their bodies that are represented at the front lines and not their voices.
I will close with this last thought: we must recognize that gendered identities, are not meant to be a box on your checklist of peoples that are included in your organizational programs and projects. Gender identities and the right of women fighting for climate justice is a movement and mobilization of strong women allied in their fight for recognition and access to resources, land, and the tools to continue their work. But what is really needed is the recognition of women's voices within policy, within negotiations, within their communities, and lastly within the COP. Let this be the moment where we actually seriously consider women and gender smart climate policy where women are at the table, where their voices are the ones implementing policies that will directly impact their communities, livelihoods, and environments. So I ask, what does the actual inclusion of gender and women's rights in climate policy really look like and what steps can we take to get there?
Written by Fernando Tormos, PhD Candidate in Political Science at the Political Science Department of Purdue University and a member of the International Network of Scholar Activists
If it were possible to do a word count of all of the words spoken in Paris during the 21st Conference of Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP21), I would not be surprised if the word finance came out on top. As a leader of an indigenous peoples’ group recently told me in reference to the United Nations Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) program, “money is a necessary evil; without it, we wouldn’t be here in Paris.” Yet, discussions of so-called “climate financing” or “green financing” tend to dominate the sorts of exchanges that are taking place here in Paris while discussions of human rights, the rights of indigenous peoples, gender and racial equality, and the adverse effect of climate change and the extractive practices of multinational corporations on frontline communities are relegated to a second plane. Environmental, indigenous, and global justice activists have faced numerous challenges at COP21. Mainly, activists are burdened with having to push the conference organizers to honor their commitment to transparency and the inclusion of civil society while also having to advocate for the recognition of human, and specifically indigenous peoples rights in the legally binding sections of the draft agreement.
In the field...
Follow our team as we cover international environmental policy making meetings.
Dr. Kimberly R. Marion Suiseeya, Department of Political Science, Northwestern University
Dr. Laura Zanotti, Department of Anthropology, Purdue University
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