The Klimaforum was the talk of the town at last year’s climate conference – well publicized, and where climate heroes like Bill McKibben chose to devote most of their time. This year’s non-governmental meeting is an all together different matter, several miles and a complicated transit away from the main events, with few organizers of the COP 16 even aware of its existence. And though the media has by and large neglected covering any of Cancun’s climate conference – dismayed perhaps by last years widely perceived failings – there is one entity monitoring it closely. Mexican police, in impressive black uniforms and carrying very hefty weapons, line the road to the Cancunmesse and Klimaforum, setting up road blocks and generally making their presence very well known.
It really is too bad that this year’s Klimaforum is so much more low key than last’s. Being somewhat skeptical of climate change conferences that involve flying delegates in from all four corners of the earth, I believe that the real change that arises from these meetings comes not from high level governmental negotiations, but rather the connections made and ideas traded among the civil society that gathers. In this regard, this Klimaforum seems no different from its predecessor. Accredited members of the COP 16 conference, dread-headed free spirits, indigenous leaders, farmers, and youth delegates gathered in a little known field outside of Cancun tonight, sharing conversations about where our world is headed. Important conversations are taking place, but I worry that the outside world is tired of listening.
Photo courtesy of the Sierra Club