(Editor's note: Lucky us — we have a Hoosier correspondent in Paris for the climate change talks that are now underway. Lauren Kastner is on the Board of Directors of Earth Charter Indiana in 2015 and is a national youth leader with the Sierra Student Coalition.)
While diplomats from nearly 190 nations started to hash out the key negotiating points for a climate agreement, the Climate Generations exposition space opened to the public today in Paris. Education, public awareness and knowledge sharing between civil societies is a large part of the atmosphere and experience at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21).
Throughout the two weeks of COP21, the Climate Generations space will be packed with activities including panel speakers, cultural booths, interactive exhibits and more. Attendees who needed to charge their phones and computers had the option to use bicycle-powered charging stations. Several interactive art installations livened the space including a tree filled with colorful ribbons with handwritten messages expressing hope for a future with a safe climate.
One party delegate from Chad said to me today, “it’s incredibly important to explore the Climate Generations space and meet people from other countries. The problem of climate change in Chad is very serious so we are not here in Paris to party; we are here to work. But having meaningful interactions with people from all over the world is the only way we can work well together.”
While following every detail of the formal negotiations can be thrilling in its own way, interactive spaces like Climate Generations just as important to building international relationships that will make civil society stronger for the climate fight ahead with or without a strong agreement coming out of Paris.