COPENHAGEN: Locking Out the Passion As NGOs are Barred

Sarah Diefendorf is the Executive Director of the Environmental Finance Center at Dominican University of California. She is attending the COP15 talks under the auspices of the League of Women Voters of the U.S. Here she shares her on-the-ground observations from Day 4:

Thousands of us have gathered here, NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations), Parties to the Convention, negotiators, media, and a world of observers. As a whole, we suffer together the cold mornings slogging through the foggy wetness of Copenhagen (especially the Africans), we herd through the ever changing security lines, we pore through the daily agenda that is stretching up to 50 pages as the delegate numbers grow, and we wander, frequently bewildered, through the football fields of halls and meeting rooms, wondering where we are supposed to be and how we can best effect change.  We have done all this with an unexpected humor and camaraderie that has turned us into a family. On the buses, in the lines, over dinner, we mix and chat, negotiators and NGOs alike.  With no protocol, we simply walk up to our undersecretaries, deputy ministers, and executive directors to chat about our concerns and the response is welcoming.  We are one family, with one cause.  But all this is about to change.

The Shame of Copenhagen
Maybe tomorrow, maybe not until Monday, the Conference Secretariat has announced that NGO access will be limited. Because there are now over 35,000 registrants and observers and NGOs are the “least important” delegates, our teams will be limited to perhaps as much as 30% of our total and that percentage will dwindle to almost nothing as the week wears on.  Our ‘family’ will morph into  ‘us and them,’ and the NGOs will soon be shut out of the debate.  By the time the world’s leaders arrive, NGO presence will likely be reduced to 100-200 participants.  This will be the shame of Copenhagen. The NGOs are the life of this conference, from the thousands of youth who are sleeping in gyms and dorm rooms, to the indigenous leaders who represent the most abused populations of this planet; we are the passion of Copenhagen. That passion will soon be moved to the purgatory of overflow, somewhere else in the city, maybe. Or perhaps we will just be relegated to watching the CNN reports on our hotel TVs just like everyone else. Next week the jaded and exhausted negotiators will turn over the floor to the world’s ministers, secretaries and leaders and politics will take the helm and we will be relegated to protesting beyond the gates.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Given logistical issues, is this fair?  What should be done?  Air your viewes in comments section below.

Protesters in Copenhagen...soon the streets are the only place they'll be able to gather. Photo: Sarah Diefendorf
By Sarah Diefendorf

18 comments

LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Thank you.

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LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Thank you.

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LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Thank you.

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LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Thank you.

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LMj Sunshine
James Merit5 years ago

Thank you.

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Aletta Kraan
Aletta Kraan8 years ago

Noted , thanks .

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Kenneth L.
Kenneth L8 years ago

Got it all figured out, Kevaquarian? Wow, I wonder how you come to 'know' all this. And it's so simple! Thanks but what you and every other 'global domination world governance conspiracy plot' theorist must show is PROOF of everything you say. Otherwise it's just words. It's meaningless without proof, and I don't mean taking a bunch of data, assembling it, and playing 'connect the dots' interpretations which PROVE nothing. Sorry, that's the way it goes because ANYONE CAN SAY ANYTHING and come to any conclusion about anything. It's all how it's formulated, presented, and viewed.

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Jean A.
Jean A8 years ago

I respect what you are all trying to achieve. But in the end the people with power like the Us and China will get their way and small countries and animals will become extinct. It is already happening. One half of the people in the US don't believe we are in climate change in Global proportions. They claim this is just a cycle. Not this time!!

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Linda M.
Linda M8 years ago

great article. thanks.

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Mervi R.
Mervi R8 years ago

Thanks for the info.

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