This is a guest blog by Allison Gacad, an undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia, and an alumnus of Environmental Defence’s Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE) program. She is currently covering the UN Climate Change Conference (COP23) in Bonn, Germany.

For Day 2, I decided to tackle the Bula Zone, where negotiations and press conferences take place.

Increasing Resilience to Climate Change panel at COP23
Panel on increasing resilience to climate change and disasters in Fiji, Solomon Islands, and other SIDS

I covered a press conference in the morning regarding funding for Small Island Developing Nations (SIDs). This was cool because I really felt like a journalist. On my way to the press conference room, I got a sneak peek into the central hubs of major news outlets (and saw them hastily typing away as I have been too for the past few days!).

View from the observation deck of the ad-hoc working group on the Paris Agreement

Afterwards, I attended a closing plenary session on the Ad Hoc Working Group of the Paris Agreement. It was very formal and most of the policy went over my head, but I was able to sit down and digest all of the information afterward with a few of my colleagues. The policy is unique because it requires consensus across all of the party members (over 100!) so the final document is truly a testament to the co-operation of nations on tackling climate change.

Indigenous Panel from the Amazon

The press conferences I covered in the afternoon were interesting as well. One was a panel which talked about the need for a managed decline in fossil fuels. Immediately following was an Indigenous panel from the Amazon. It was inspiring to see Indigenous community leaders speak of their resistance to corporate interests but also saddening to hear about how their communities been impacted by climate change.

We ended the day meeting with the CEO of the Foundation for Environmental Education, Daniel Schaffer. He spoke of the importance of YRE as a tool for critical thinking on climate change, which I strongly support. The program has really encouraged me to investigate and cover all sides of the story, even those I may not agree with.

I can’t believe tomorrow’s my last day at COP23! Somehow, it feels like I just got here but also as if I’ve been here for two weeks. It is quite exhausting to learn so much across so many different sectors every day, but I’m loving every minute of it.