COP26: The (Not Only Physical) Gap between the Blue Zone and the Green Zone

 COP26: The (Not Only Physical) Gap between the Blue Zone and the Green Zone

The 26th COP has opened in Glasgow: countless events take place between the Green Zone, dedicated to civil society, and the Blue Zone, where negotiations take place. However, the gap between the two areas is evident and it does not concern only the river that separates them: a bridge between civil society and delegates is increasingly needed so that the climate crisis can be resolved. 

Di Mayra Boscato | YPA Italy

On the first of November the twenty-sixth edition of the Climate Change Conference was launched in Glasgow. On the same day, in the Blue Zone, the World Leaders Summit took place and  worldwide leaders expressed their main concerns and goals with respect to the negotiations. At the same time and less than a mile away from it, the Green Zone opened its doors to the public and to the population in particular: it is a venue where the civil society, youth and artists from all over the world do exhibits, speak at the events and include the public with the final aim of increasing people’s awareness of climate change.

Thus, while in the Blue Zone, which is the area dedicated to the delegates, press and NGOs observers, Alok Sharma, President of the COP26 , was observing that “the window to keep within 1.5 degree is closing”, the Green Zone, just across the river Clyde, was filling up with classes of kids and young people who enthusiastically participated to interactive games and movie clips.

The Green Zone represents an incredible possibility for civil society, not only to make its voice heard but also to actually take part in an event whose result will determine the destiny of humanity. The Global Citizens Assembly’s action precisely focuses on this urgency: it is a worldwide project that includes more than fifty Countries and which aims at giving “a seat at the negotiations table” to every individual. Helganna Trantes, the German spokesperson, underlined in her speech that protecting the planet is essential, because “if we destroy the ecosystem, the ecosystem will destroy us”. There are many citizens worldwide that have participated in the Assembly with the intention to spread the need for change from every single human being. Pictures scrolling on the screen showed many small village communities meeting up: those photos show all their diligence, effort and desire to fight and obtain a better planet. The message is clear: it is necessary to take bold decisions since, as Trantes highlighted, “we do need nature, but nature doesn’t need us”.

Walking around the Green Zone pavilions you can feel the excitement, the willingness to know, to deepen, to understand things and strive for a change, to change direction to each own life in order to effectively take part in the transformation. 

“I pledge to use reusable capsule in order to reduce the waste”, “I pledge to use the bus and bike more”, “I will eat less meat”: these are just some examples written and sticked on the pledges wall set up by Sainsbury’s, one of the major sponsor of the Conference. Sky, another sponsor, similarly prepared some small disc pledges and has invited the public to take one and attach it in correspondence to the country of origin of the big map arranged by the pavilion. 

Taking for granted that the purpose of the Green Zone is to make the civil society voice heard, one voice left unheard for a long time is the women’s one. Nicole Scott, a NASA astronaut, underlines the relevance of diversity in all its forms. Women have a crucial role in the fight against climate change and the Green Zone seems to be aware of it: considerable space for exhibitions and events is dedicated to women.  

Multiple voices followed one another at the event “Earth observers” where women were the protagonists. Jessie, a Kenian filmmaker, emphasized that being an activist sometimes can be dangerous, but at the same time it is necessary since telling stories is more important. Diaka is not in the room, but she joined through the video conference. She could not participate in person as she “comes from the south of the world”, as she ironically remarked. Anastasia is a farm holder and underscores the importance of working with nature and not against it. “Our planet has to be protected: if we are threatened, it is fundamental to have our back covered”: this is the lesson learned by Nicole during her missions in space, where having good travel buddies was all.

When you enter the Green Zone, fortunately, you have the feeling of being in good company, surrounded by people that care a lot, that want to work hard at the change but that, at the same, ask for responses, immediate, concrete and determined actions from the ones “across the river”. 

Antònio Guterres, General Secretary for the United Nations, declared that the “Global Citizens Assembly is a practical way of showing how we can accelerate action through solidarity and people power.” Civil society has demonstrated and is still demonstrating to be able to play its part but, as the Secretary asserted,  “now is the moment for national leaders to stand and deliver”. 

In the city of Glasgow, the river Clyde separates the Blue Zone from the Green Zone: the bridge that connects the two zones is closed though. It is crucial, instead, that the bridge between the delegates and the civil society, not tested at all yet, is set up and strengthened in order to achieve the change.  

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