How I felt dumber at the CAN strategy session

CAN strategy session at ibis Styles Khaosan Viengtai

It was two minutes to one when Syahirah and I rushed into Ibis hotel in the middle of Khao San Road. The setting of this session was rather daunting, as I didn’t expect it to be held in a ballroom (albeit a mini one). As the participants of the CAN strategy session finally settled down, Lina, the Head of Political Advocacy of CAN set the ball rolling by welcoming the participants. She then shared the State of Play of SB48 in Bangkok after a short round of introductions, highlighting the fact that with only 6 negotiating days, negotiations needed to be conducted in a timely fashion.

The session went on with discussions of the key elements and scenarios for COP24, which made me even more intimidated than I already was. There were times where I got lost completely and caught myself staring blankly at the projector, not knowing what was being discussed. I was surprised that I managed to answer a few of the pop quiz questions and actually understood the context of the quiz on CAN’s positions around the implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement. I guess reading random articles did help a little?

Following a much-needed break, the session resumed with presentations on finance, NDCs as well as resilience and equity given by the coordinators of the respective working groups, followed by short stretches of discussions and intelligence sharing from the floor after each presentation. If you did not understand what the previous sentence is about, fret not, because I don’t too.

What captivated me the most was the presentation given by Harjeet Singh, a strong advocate of disaster resilience and Loss & Damage. After a long afternoon of rather dry presentations, Harjeet put forward his thoughts on how disaster resilience were not being communicated effectively. He stressed that clear actions needed to be taken in negotiations, for there still isn’t any standing agenda item on Loss & Damage at COP. He had also mentioned that it is necessary to put forward the fact that developing countries are not downright responsible for the crisis faced.


“The Paris Agreement is about people and planet, not solar panels”

Harjeet

Harjeet had also fired up a heated discussion when the status of countries in delivering their NDCs were presented in a colour code ranging from green to red, with India being the only country with a red status. He demanded explanation on the criteria used to evaluate each and every country’s status, and insisted on his stance even when other CAN members provided their thoughts on the colour coding system. Although the discussion went on for almost twenty minutes, I did not lose track and was left in awe. I wanted to be like Harjeet, to be able to speak up whenever I want to.

The six-hour session concluded with Andreas and Andres briefing us about the plans CAN had for the entire week, and it left myself feeling more intimidated than I already was.

Written by Kitty Chen
Peer reviewed by Abirami Baskaran

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