Thursday was Youth Day at COP18. This meant that many young people got a taste of COP, and it was great seeing them here all over the QNCC. They protested, among other actions, including a flashmob.
I was greeted in the morning by this group of WAGGS, and intrigued by their demand for public access to information. I asked Camilla Born, from World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts how important education and availability of open data is to them:
Intrigued by this, I went on with my day – which continued highlighting the importance of getting young people involved. During his press briefing, the Chairman of the subcommittee, Fahad al Attiya, put the spotlight on some very bright young Qatari students, who shared their experience and activities for climate change. Picture Fahad as the chairman said, in the mid 90s, when there was only one flight to the UK, and no Internet, i.e., he did not have the same access to information we are used to today. So what a change to see the next generation being able to get educated on the mangrove mapping tool from Qatar foundation International and participating in exchange program’s focused on the environment.
Going back to the Article 6 of the Convention, I really wanted to find out more, and tracked down the text of Article 6 of the convention:
ARTICLE 6: EDUCATION, TRAINING AND PUBLIC AWARENESS
In carrying out their commitments under Article 4, paragraph 1(i), the Parties shall:
(a) Promote and facilitate at the national and, as appropriate, subregional and regional levels, and in accordance with national laws and regulations, and within their respective capacities:
(i) The development and implementation of educational and public awareness programmes on climate change and its effects;
(ii) Public access to information on climate change and its effects;
(iii) Public participation in addressing climate change and its effects and developing adequate responses; and
(iv) Training of scientific, technical and managerial personnel.
(b) Cooperate in and promote, at the international level, and, where appropriate, using existing bodies:
(i) The development and exchange of educational and public awareness material on climate change and its effects; and
(ii) The development and implementation of education and training programmes, including the strengthening of national institutions and the exchange or secondment of personnel to train experts in this field, in particular for developing countries.
So, what frequently is described as a Youth Education article suddenly becomes one of the most significant texts for publishers here at COP18/CMP8. Does this mean public access, as a mandate (or a non mandate in the same way as there are papers and non-papers at COP)?
I wondered whether the convention means that parties shall provide access to information on climate change? Digging around, I could not really find an answer, so went along to the very interesting and entertaining briefing session with Christiana Figueres.
Her briefing was done in the style of a quiz. Thinking that asking a very specialized question on publishing peer-reviewed information might not be what the audience is looking for, I listened patiently to the good news, that all countries have agreed to QELROs (commitments countries have made to cut greenhouse emissions under the Kyoto Protocol)–except Ukraine.
The briefing quickly went onto the subject of science, and the progress on those committees. “Science sees the situation as the atmosphere is seeing this … governments see this from their individual perspectives.” Running out of time, and not seeing many questions, I picked up all my inquisitive energy and asked the Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres. This is clearly not a scholarly publishing conference, and she possibly did not immediately understand where I was coming from, I clarified my question with some very friendly banter, and used the UN as an example, who is setting a great example on making their reports available to the public. Her response was that the secretariat firstly makes all the data they produce available to the public (and the way this operates at COP, is simply amazing to see in action), and she would encourage increase of public access to information, including to peer-reviewed information.
Surely this can be picked up by future COPs, as a mandate of public access to climate change information would be amazing to advance the discussion. Many of the attendees are from NGOs, intergovernmental organisations who really would benefit from better access. Consultation is needed, and I am looking forward to discussing this further in the next coming days.
But then again, I wondered, why is this Article frequently referred to as the “Youth Article?”
— Arend Kuester