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Young blood

December 6, 2009

Medieval frescoes of bearded Danish conquerors covered the walls and ceilings. But hundreds of fresh-faced youth activists spread across the floor, gathering to strategize, socialize, and focus collective energy for COP15.

Youth activists and policymakers from around the world gather under medieval frescoes in ceremonial hall in the University of Copenhagen Dec. 6

We joined the Conference of the Youth in the University of Copenhagen’s ceremonial hall today. We met people from Senegal to Vietnam. Taylor and Anthony had a few enthusiastic, smiling reunions with activists from Bonn.

Our meals didn’t go as smoothly as our engagement, but more on that later.

Between almost every session speakers lead call and response: “If you hear me, clap once!” It felt like Kindergarten again. Once the chatter in various languages quieted down, all the leaders spoke English. Taylor and Anthony learned how to coordinate actions and connect to the media in small afternoon groups.

At the end of the day, Greenpeace International Director Kumi Naidoo closed his powerful, inspirational speech with a song [see Anthony’s post for his question and answer].

Don’t let the games and songs fool you. Serious analysis and influence on the UN negotiating process began today.

On the meal front, free vegan brown bag lunches were available all afternoon. I’ve never had a half mushroom, half beet sandwich before. Taylor and Anthony dove right in. I couldn’t finish half.

I also didn’t finish my first cup of tea this morning. I scooped in two teaspoons of what looked like sugar. Once my first sip tasted like tea-flavored ocean, I realized the sugar was actually salt.

That was perhaps the sourest part of an otherwise invigorating day. DEPP has the best chance at changing these negotiations through youth action, so these will be valuable contacts going forward. And, we felt the power of a movement.

Surrounded by the triumphant leaders of old, youth leaders called on each other to demand a fair, ambitious and binding treaty in two weeks from the world leaders of today.

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