This will be my last blog from Copenhagen before I catch the train back to London tonight. What can I say? It has been an experience. Not always enjoyable, but definitely instructive.
One of my abiding memories will be of the dinner I had on Friday night with the President of Kiribati and his delegation. The mood was bittersweet, poignant in its defiant optimism in the face of enormous disappointment – if “disappointment” can be a word adequate to describe a country’s reaction to its own death sentence.
The woman who had danced at the Kiribati side-event made a speech in which she declared, “We still still be here, we will not go down.” The irony was almost too much to bear. The President was open about his feelings, “We are trying to maintain our composure, but I am very sad… We were naive and vulnerable… I wish I was so much more ruthless.”
He acknowledged that he would face criticism at home for not having achieved more, but really, what more could they have done? They came. They presented their case to the assembly. They gave a side event demonstrating the scientists’ projections for their future – or lack of it. But they were ignored. Their voices were not heard, drowned out by the booming baritone of Big Money.
In a veiled criticism of the process that had let them down by excluding them and most of the world’s smaller and still developing nations, the President commented, “There is no exclusion in our society.” And he issued me a personal invitation to spend time with him and his family on one of the outer islands, to witness firsthand the multiple layers of their culture, to its deepest spiritual core.
After the President’s speech, the assembled delegation spontaneously burst into song. It was a beautiful sound. The President translated for the non I-Kiribati speakers. The general gist of the words was that no matter how lovely any other islands may be, there is no place so special to them as the islands of Kiribati. Yet those islands seem unlikely to survive the century, if the scientists are right.
Linda Anderson, the filmmaker who with her husband created the short movie “Kiribati – A Call To The World” (available on YouTube) -summed it up. “They play dirty, don’t they?”
They do. We have all learned a lot about the REAL rules of the game during these formative days in Denmark. And next time we will arrive better prepared. The fight for justice does not end here.
Hard-hitting advice from someone who understand the rules of the game: No one is going to save you fools
NGOs combine forces going forward – We’re not done yet
And a final note – Tweet posted by me yesterday, adapted and updated: Post-COPulation syndrome: a feeling of anticlimax, disillusionment, cynicism. Leading to increased fire in the belly.