OccupyCOP17 :Day 1

As delegates and lobbyists gathered at the ICC for the day one of the 17th edition of the Conference of the Parties, outside the arena there was a gathering of a different kind. A stone’s throw away at speaker’s corner activists, artists and citizens gathered to Occupy Cop17. This was day one of an initiative that is expected to run through the duration of the conference. The occupy movement finds its way to the arena in a bid to try and convince the delegates of COP17 to move away from the political bickering that has plagued climate talks in Copenhagen and Cancun over the past two years.

Speaking on the importance of citizen based movements former Bolivian UN ambassador Pablo Solon said that it was important for people from all around the globe to gather in similar movements. ““I was inside the UN negotiations for many years,” said Solon. “And I can tell you, this, right here, is what needs to be happening around the world.”

According to activist Angus Joseph said that what made this gathering unique was the fact that it was a mixture of people from all walks of life, and are the people affected directly by climate change. “The majority of these everyday citizens — from students to farmers to entrepreneurs — are not allowed inside the UN negotiations, which are taking place in a convention center surrounded by barbed wire fences and guarded by hundreds of police,” said Joseph.

Amongst the activities that took place during the day was the speaking sessions as well as dynamic dialogues where people from all parts of the world shared stories about how they have been affected and how they are helping combat climate change.

“A gathering under the trees to discuss community problems is very familiar in rural areas of Africa,” said Samantha Bailey, African Coordinator for the international climate campaign 350.org.”It’s great to see this old tradition and new spirit of Occupy movements come together here in Durban. Since our politicians are failing to lead, now it’s up to the people to show the way forward.”

You can follow more on the movement and other surrounding initiatives at www.occupycop17.org or  @occupycop17


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