Unveiling the Global Climate Odyssey: A Chronicle of Mahabahu in COP28
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP28, held in Expo City Dubai from 30th November to 12th December, was a pivotal event that brought together global leaders, activists, and media representatives to address pressing environmental challenges.
As a media delegate from Mahabahu, I embarked on this journey with a sense of responsibility and anticipation.
Having received my Media Accreditation in August, the realization of representing Mahabahu in such a significant global forum dawned upon me. The unsurmountable trust placed in me by Mr. Anjan Sarma, Editor – Mahabahu, fuelled my determination to make the most of this opportunity.
Nervousness and apprehension gripped me as I pondered whether I could live up to the expectations associated with attending a conference of such global importance.
Arriving in Dubai with Barsha Sarma, Design Editor & Illustrator of Mahabahu Magazine on the 30th of November, the day of the COP28 opening ceremony at Expo City, marked the commencement of my experience. The vibrant atmosphere of the venue was palpable as delegates from around the world gathered to address the urgent climate crisis. The Expo City, a hub of innovation and collaboration, provided an apt backdrop for discussions on climate action.
One notable encounter on the first day was meeting Mr. Rituraj Phukan, the Global Climate Leader from Assam and climate editor of Mahabahu, who had arrived a day earlier. This encounter set the tone for the rich interactions and networking opportunities that characterized COP28. Collecting my Accreditation badge, I immersed myself in exploring the Blue Zone, gaining insights into the diverse discussions and activities taking place.
A memorable highlight at the onset was greeting Ms. Chautuileo Tranamil, Co-founder – Indigenous Liberation Movement, a passionate climate activist from the Netherlands. Engaging in an insightful conversation with her was a privilege, and the subsequent dinner in La Letizia Restro Café, Marina Walk, provided a unique opportunity to exchange perspectives on global climate challenges.
Embarking on my maiden voyage into the intricate realm of COP28, I, as a media representative of Mahabahu, found myself at the nexus of global climate discourse. Stepping into the dynamic environment of COP28, I embraced the responsibility of conveying the conference’s discussions and outcomes to our readers.
The vast array of sessions, workshops, and side events offered a kaleidoscope of perspectives, each contributing to the overarching theme of climate action.
The journey unfolded at the Media Centre within the blue zone of the COP28 venue, where serendipity led me to Mr. Sanjay Vashist, the Director of Climate Action Network, South Asia. His warm reception, especially considering my inaugural COP attendance, set the tone for an extraordinary experience.
Venturing into the Blue Zone, I immersed myself in discussions about the imminent decisions at COP28 and reflected upon past deliberations in locations like Egypt and Glasgow. The intermingling of thoughts and ideas within this diverse community was both enlightening and invigorating.
One of the key themes dominating the discussions was the urgency of addressing climate change and the need for collaborative efforts on a global scale. Negotiations and dialogues unfolded in various forums, with delegates striving to find common ground and tangible solutions to mitigate the impacts of climate change.
The Blue Zone, where much of the official negotiations occurred, buzzed with activity as countries presented their commitments and strategies. It was enlightening to witness the diverse approaches and priorities of nations, highlighting the complex nature of addressing climate issues on an international level.
As a media representative, my days were filled with attending discussions, meetings, interviewing personalities from myriad background, and documenting the diverse perspectives emerging from COP28.
The Media Centre, a hub of information and connectivity, facilitated interactions with fellow journalists, fostering a sense of camaraderie in the pursuit of disseminating crucial climate-related information. The diverse perspectives woven into these conversations enriched my understanding of the global narrative surrounding climate action.
Venturing beyond the Media Centre, I explored the Pavilions erected by various nations, each a testament to their commitment to addressing the climate crisis. Exploring the various national Pavilions offered me a first-hand look at the different approaches countries are taking to address the climate crisis.
From the India Pavilion to those of Ukraine, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Italy, Iraq, Bhutan, and beyond, I immersed myself in discussions and meetings that illuminated the urgent need for preventative measures on a global scale. This immersive experience became a crucible of knowledge, shaping my comprehension of the multifaceted challenges posed by climate change.
Within the India Pavilion, I delved into sessions discussing Sustainable Urbanization in the Himalayas, the Status of Forest and Carbon Stock in the IHR, Sustainable Tourism, and Eco-Tourism.
These sessions offered a glimpse into India’s multifaceted approach to climate challenges, showcasing the nation’s dedication to sustainable development. It not only broadened my perspective but also underscored the intricate linkages between local actions and global consequences.
Given Mahabahu’s coverage of the conflict in Ukraine, a visit to the Ukraine Pavilion was inevitable. The visit to the Pavilion particularly against the backdrop of the ongoing war, showcases the intersection of environmental and geopolitical challenges.
Here, amidst discussions on resilience and peace, an impactful session on the construction of a 500-megawatt wind farm in the aftermath of environmental challenges due to war, emerged.
The visual narrative of climate crisis-induced destruction depicted on the Pavilion walls served as a stark reminder of the interconnectedness between conflict and environmental degradation, and of the urgency to address these issues.
A poignant chapter unfolded at the Indigenous Pavilion, a unique nexus of cultures from the Amazon rainforest and beyond, provided an eye-opening encounter. Despite linguistic barriers, a shared commitment to addressing climate issues bridged the communication gap.
The language barrier did not hinder meaningful interactions with these Indigenous People, demonstrating the universal language of concern for the environment. The Indigenous peoples embraced Mahabahu’s cause, promoting our Climate Change and Indigenous edition amongst their peers—an unexpected yet heartening alliance.
Their endorsement of the magazine among their communities is a testament to the shared commitment to addressing climate challenges. In short, the visit to the Indigenous Pavilion added a crucial dimension to my experience, emphasizing the importance of inclusive dialogue.
A serendipitous encounter with a few dynamic personalities left an indelible mark. A few of those needs special mention – Carolina Monaco, “Eco House Global”, Mia Tahan, “Climate Fresk”. The NGO, “Eco House Global” create programmes for transitions and sustainability. The programmes are on Education, Ecological Restoration and Bio-diversity, Consultancy and Climate Crisis.
And within these areas, they develop different types of programmes, in order for people to be able to transition, adapt and develop tools to adapt these climate crisis situations. Besides the innovative approach of “Climate Fresk” in facilitating workshops based on IPCC reports, using games and entertainment to simplify complex climate concepts, showcases a commendable effort to raise awareness.
The fact that this initiative is available in India further accentuates its potential impact on fostering climate literacy. Moreover, I had an absolute honour of meeting delegates from law and justice to the space world. Raya Salter, a fantastic woman, who leads “Energy Justice Law and Policy Center”, or EJLPC, New York – is a “Climate Hero”. The “Climate Auntie” podcast by her was a treat to watch.
Amidst the myriad encounters, Indian women stood out as Observers in COP28, representing diverse NGOs from across the country. Throughout the convention, my path intersected with numerous Indian women serving as Observers in COP28, representing their NGOs from various corners of the country.
Their stories and perspectives added a nuanced layer to the ongoing discussions and highlighted the crucial role of diverse voices in shaping global climate policies.
The summit also witnessed the active participation of youth activists, bringing a fresh perspective and a sense of urgency to the discussions. Their passion and commitment served as a reminder that the fight against climate change transcends generations, requiring collective efforts to secure a sustainable future.
The Expo City itself served as a testament to innovation and sustainable practices. Exhibitions showcasing cutting-edge technologies, renewable energy solutions, and eco-friendly initiatives underscored the importance of embracing a green transition. The synergy between technological advancements and environmental consciousness was a recurring theme, emphasizing the role of innovation in addressing climate challenges.
In retrospect, my initiation into the UNFCCC COP28 as a media representative was transformative, providing a unique vantage point to witness the global community’s concerted efforts to combat climate change. From encounters with delegates across the globe to in-depth discussions on policy nuances, every moment enriched my understanding of the complexities surrounding climate action.
The convergence of global perspectives within the Blue Zone offered a holistic understanding of the challenges posed by the climate crisis and the collective efforts needed to address them. And, as the world grapples with the urgent need for climate action, the experiences at COP28 served as a testament to the shared responsibility that transcends borders and unites humanity in the pursuit of a sustainable future.
Reflecting on my learning journey at COP28, I acknowledge the inevitable mistakes made as a novice. Yet, each misstep became a stepping stone, contributing to my growth and understanding of the complexities woven into the fabric of global climate negotiations.
As I returned from Dubai, I carried with me not just a wealth of information but a renewed sense of purpose to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on climate resilience and sustainability. The lessons learned and connections forged during COP28 will undoubtedly influence my future endeavours as a media professional committed to advocating for positive change on a global stage.
The odyssey of COP28 has not only been a professional milestone but a personal evolution, reinforcing the collective responsibility we bear in safeguarding our planet.
I express my gratitude to Anjan Sarma, Editor of Mahabahu, for entrusting me with the responsibility of representing the organisation on the global stage. His support not only helped me realize my potential, but also pursue dreams which are audacious, yet ambitious.
I also acknowledge Barsha Sarma, Design Editor & Illustrator of Mahabahu Magazine, for her unwavering support throughout my COP28 expedition, shaping it into a seamless experience. Her creative insights and collaboration have added significance to the experience, enhancing our collective impact.
Special thanks to Mr. Rituraj Phukan, Global Climate Leader, whose inspiration fuelled my participation in COP28, and through his guidance, I have gleaned profound insights into the intricate web of climate change.
Kakali Das is the Assistant Editor of Mahabahu and attended COP28.
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