Update from COP 17 - Saving Tomorrow Today

Two members of the Earth Day Network team are in Durban, South Africa attending COP 17. Here is their latest blog from the UN Conference:

Our first day at COP 17, went by in a flash.  After waking up to a beautiful South African sunrise, we walked over to the COP 17 headquarters and took a quick tour of the massive complex before immersing ourselves in the conference.

Upon arriving, we were disappointed to see the lack of progress in the climate negotiations by the international community, but were incredibly impressed by some of the youth participating in the conference. Of the many speeches we heard, by far the most engaging was a call to action by a young 15 year-old girl from Africa, who demanded that the older generations act now on climate change and not allow their environmental debt to be passed on to their children.

Soon afterwards we learned she was one of 161 youth from across the African continent who came to Durban together in a caravan to participate in COP 17. Upon meeting some of these other boys and girls, we were astounded by the amazing things they do in their communities for the environment. One young man founded an organization in his home town in Rwanda to teach his community about green issues through local newspaper articles. Another young woman organized the entire youth caravan and worked with her local government to hold workshops on climate change and the importance of COP 17 at her school.

Altogether, there are more than 400 youth at the conference, and after meeting many of them today and witnessing their infectious passion and commitment for the environment, one cannot help but feel hopeful that something positive will come from this conference. As the young Makgadi put it, our children will experience the affects of of climate change, and we have no right to let them inherit a damaged earth, we must act now.