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Doha blog: Live from COP18

Copenhagen student Maria Nitzsch Hastrup is a 'Girl Guide'. She is also a delegate at the UN Climate Change Conference COP 18 in Doha right now. And she is blogging for the University Post

When I say that I am a Girl Guide most people look at me suspiciously. ‘Are you serious?’, they seem to be thinking, while smiling politely and asking me, if I then believe a lot in God, can do knots and survive in the wilderness. Most people then get a surprise, when I tell them that girl guiding so far has sent me to Malawi, Southern Sudan, Zambia, Rio and Qatar.

I am currently at COP18, the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar. Here I use both the practical knowledge that I have learnt through guiding and the theoretical knowledge that I have gained while studying at the University of Copenhagen.

As a Master’s student at the Centre of African Studies it is natural for me to be interested and involved in the decisions that world leaders will (hopefully) make at this COP on how to, for example, finance adaptation efforts for those most effected by the more frequently occurring weather phenomena affecting the world’s poorest.

So far the negotiation has not brought anything at all. There is a feeling here in Doha that everybody is waiting for someone to take the first step. It is, however, difficult, because the first step needs to be an ambitious one – everybody know this!

NGO, not an official delegate

Where is Denmark in all of this, you might wonder? Well, Denmark is among those pushing for more ambition, and among those willing to put money behind their words. Maybe Denmark could even be the one to make the first step? The next couple of days will show.

In general, it is easy to be a young person from Denmark here, as I do not have to push my government as much as, for example, young people from Canada and Australia have to. I only have one issue: I am alone!

I am part of the international delegation of WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts), which makes me part of the group accredited as NGOs, and this does not make me a representative of Denmark.

In other countries such as The Netherlands, Norway, France and Finland they have actual young, official delegates. This means that the youth delegates are inside the official delegation and are being asked directly on questions regarding youth. One could argue that in a process like the one taking place right now in Qatar, it is all about the youth, as it is our future.

Let’s hope that Denmark will bring official youth delegates next time!

Will moderate debate

Meanwhile I will stay here and keep speaking the voice of young people, who are part of the solution and must not be forgotten. Our future is right now being negotiated and there is far too much talk and not enough ambition or action.

So far I have had the pleasure of being selected to moderate the Intergenerational Inquiry, where youth will get the opportunity to ask and answer questions from Mary Robinson, Dessima Williams and Christiana Figueres – all very influential women here at COP18.

Come back to the University Post and read my future blogs to see how this goes…

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