Since the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force in 1994, the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC has been meeting annually to assess progress in dealing with climate change. The COP is the highest decision-making authority of the Convention. There are now 195 parties to the convention taking part in climate change negotiations.
The Brahma Kumaris is participating in its general observer status at COP18.
The Asia-Pacific Region is the host of COP18 which is taking place from November 26 to December 7, 2012 in Doha, Qatar. The President of COP18/CMP8 is His Excellency Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah, Director of the Qatar Administrative Control and Transparency Authority, with prior roles with the office of Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Energy and Industry, and Minister of Water and Electricity.
The BK delegation to COP18/CMP8 comprises of Sister Jayanti (UK – head of delegation), Joachim Golo Pilz (India/Germany), Valeriane Bernard (Switzerland), Sonja Ohlsson (Denmark), Anthony Phelips (UK), Teresa Mungazi (Zimbabwe), Mohit Sibal (Abu Dhabi), Jyotika Hulmani (Dubai), Piyush Ahuja (Dubai) and Teresa Lugones (Italy).
The international delegation is also being supported by BK support from Qatar and other Middle East countries.
Brahma Kumaris stand in COP 18 venue
The Qatar Sustainability Expo 2012 (QSE2012) is also being run. This is a government, industry and NGO showcase of environmentally sustainable programs, initiatives, plans and products as well as an opportunity to hear expert speakers and panel discussions. The event is overseen by the Ministry of Environment in Qatar. The exhibition will run concurrently to COP18. This event is aimed at complementing Qatar's broader vision of advancing its environmental sustainability efforts.
Brahma Kumaris has set up an exhibit of BK environmental and human capability development initiatives. This is the first public exhibition event ever held by Brahma Kumaris in Qatar.
Planning and Support
The Brahma Kumaris National Coordinator, Sister Jyoti, came from Dubai. Logistic coordination is given by a team formed by seven volunteers from Dubai, one from Muscat and a number from Qatar. They have demonstrated to be very professional and serviceable.
In the context of COP 18, youth delegates from Brahma Kumaris, participated to the Conference of Youth (COY8; youth strategy meetings prior to COP meetings).
A separate report will follow on the workshop organized by our youth delegation on Saturday 24 November 2012.
The BK delegation had an opportunity to gain insights into the UNFCCC with Teresa Mungazi (BSc Honors in Environmental Science). This session covered general background of UNFCCC and the climate change negotiations. We also discussed BKWSU's views and proposals for the event.
left: Main entrance of COP18 Conference venue
right: BKWSU delegates meet Dr Curtis Doebbler, NGO representative for ISMUN
During the first day, the BK delegation met two members of the media. Jyotika Hulmani met with Mr. Sudeep Sunawane, Editor of Qatar News Agency. He is the official representative of Qatar Government for English Language Media at the COP18/CMP 8. He expressed keen interest in covering BK events. An interview with ter Jayanti is being organized. Mr Sudeep Sunawane also expressed a deep spiritual connection that is aligned with BK values.
Golo Pilz was interviewed by Ms. Rubina Singh, freelance journalist for feature columns at Gulf. Times (one of Qatar's premier English language newpapers) and Time Out Magazine Doha. She asked many questions on how a shift in awareness can help in the long-term future cooperation for a more sustainable world.
Opening session in the Plenary Hall
The introduction was given by Ms. Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat. She thanked Qatar for hosting the Conference this meeting and welcomed all country representatives and government authorities, as well as non-governmental organizations. According to her, time management is the key to a successful COP.
COP18/CMP8 President H.E. Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah stated... "As climate change is a common challenge for humanity, the Conference is a golden opportunity and we must make best use of it,". Some representatives were given the floor to illustrate in a few words their aims with regards to climate change and COP18. Mr. Aysar Tayeb, Chair of the Ad hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention (AWG-LCA) and Co-Chair of Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) was one of these individuals.
The general view of representatives at this opening session was a desire to conduct negotiations in a positive fashion.
Side event: What Doha must deliver for the pre and post 2020 Climate Regime
At this side event. speakers focussed on key decisions needed in Doha to ensure equitable, ambitious and effective outcomes in the pre and post 2020 climate regime. Valeriane Bernard and Teresa Lugones participated in this event.
The Chinese representative described why China has decided not to make a commitment to binding emissions reduction targets and take action accordingly... "China will do what Western countries do, and not what Western countries say." A representative from In Action Organization (NGO based in Washington) spoke afterwards about climate finance. Climate change actions have a cost, he said, and the longer we wait for implementing them, the more expensive they become.
A representative from an NGO dealing with Social and Environmental Issues spoke about EUs position... "If we do not reduce emissions before 2020, the situation will be catastrophic" she said. Europe has virtually achieve their commitments. She made a strong statement... "NGOs should wake up and start asking for what we need and not for what we might get."
A representative from the Malaysian Government indicated that their country is doing as much as they can. They agreed to take appropriate actions nationally. Many of developing countries do not have the economical tools to take the sustainable steps and are yet committed. She concluded by saying that "we cannot leave historical polluters get away with light laws."
Brahma Kumaris Environment Initiative (BKEI) at Qatar Sustainability Expo 2012 (QSE 2012)
Following an exciting opening of the BKEI exhibit by Sister Jyoti from Dubai, the BKEI team participated in the inauguration of the QSE 2012 event, which was presided over Ms. Christiana Figueres (Executive Secretary UNFCCC) and COP18/CMP8 President H.E. Abdullah bin Hamad Al-Attiyah.
Golo Pilz, Sonja Ohlsson, Valeriane Bernard and Jyotika Hulmani had an excellent introductory meeting with Dr. R. Seetharaman, Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Doha Bank, as well as some of his senior staff, at the inauguration of the Qatar Sustainability Expo 2012 and opening of Brahma Kumaris Environment Initiative exhibit. The discussion covered Doha Bank's approach to sustainability projects, the BK India One Project and opportunities for future BK events in Doha.
Jyotika and Jagir (Qatar) met with Mr. Ashraf Thoonery, Residential Editor of the Chandrika Daily (Qatar edition) newspaper. The Chandrika Daily ran a story on the QSE 2012 Inauguration as well as coverage of the BKEI Exhibit (photo below).
Furthermore, the COP18 official online news source highlighted the BKEI exhibit and pubic presentation in an on-line article..."For adults, the Expo features a compelling line-up of workshops and lectures by Qatar Steel, the Brahma Kumaris Environment Initiative, Yale University and Conservation International, Qatar Environment and Energy Research Institute, and many others."
For more information: www.environment.brahmakumaris.org