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Durban blog: How to learn the jargon

At the climate conference in South Africa, University of Copenhagen forestry student Walid Mustapha, compares the conference to university: Sure, being a delegate is like being a student, he says. But there is more jargon, and no professors to answer your questions

For a novice attending the conference, COP 17 can best be described as a circus. A myriad of events, plenary sessions, organizations, parties and more, make time management seem arbitrary. Additionally, the political jargon and the endless number of abbreviations add to the confusion.

The UNFCCC (for the uninitiated this means the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) is not a convention for the ignorant. And becoming knowledgeable is a slow and demanding process.

To meet the challenges I am facing in understanding what is going on around me, I read, I listen and I take notes.

Learnt more than at lectures

Unfortunately, no professor is waiting around the corner to satisfy my curiosity, when I have unanswered questions. To adapt, I meet with my delegation each day and we exchange knowledge.

Furthermore, I attempt to speak with anyone willing to share any insight or understanding, as it is crucial to go through informal channels and be a bit inventive. It can be compared to everything else works in this world; you have to know or befriend the right people in order to get what you want.

Sharing of capacity is an essential and ongoing process, and even the veterans of the UNFCCC struggle. While I might be considered ignorant by some of the people attending the conference, I have still gained tremendous insight: If I was to compare the knowledge and experience I have gained with two weeks of lectures I think I am way ahead.

See Walid’s previous blogs here and here.

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