I was in Copenhagen last year for COP 15 and I owe a great debt of gratitude to the Klima Forum. The series of talks and lectures I attended taught me so much about the climate crisis humanity faces at the moment and what the solutions are. I was quite excited about revisiting my old teacher here in Mexico for COP 16.
Unfortunately, Klima Forum this year was a mere shadow of Klima Forum of last year. Some people went as far as calling it a complete flop. Although the location quite picturesque and green (on the grounds of a polo field in the middle of the bush - see photo), the Klima Forum was plagued with transportation issues which limited the amount of participants. Whereas it felt like hundreds were at the Klima Forum daily in Copenhagen, only dozens were at the Klima Forum this year.
I am not one to put quantity before quality. The number of participants may have been small, but I heard some excellent speakers (Polly Higgins, Tom Goldtooth). What was heartbreaking for me was the Klima Forum this year was a clear example of how the environmental movement is not one united front. La Via Campesina had their own venue. Dialogo Climatico was apparently a venue for the bigger organisations (Oxfam, Friends of the Earth, etc). And then there was the poor little Klima Forum. Why these different groups were not able to coordinate their events and work together the same way it felt like they did in Copenhagen I do not know. But the fact that they were not able to work together to organize one "people's summit" does indicate the environmental movement has a lot of work to do before we achieve climate justice.
The organizers of the Klima Forum Cancun do have my respect. They did the best they could with the materials they had to make a truly people's summit. The rumors are the name "Klima Forum" will not be used during COP 17 in South Africa, but the spirit of the Klima Forum will live on. I had a chance yesterday to sit in on a planning session of African civil society about what to do for next year's COP and I walked away happy. The excitement of the African delegates to make their own people's assembly or summit was intoxicating. And to top it all off, a rainbow appeared at the very end of the meeting. Maybe there is hope for next year.