The Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), is an annual global summit that brings together almost every country in the world to assess progress in addressing climate change. Every year, a group of graduate and undergraduate WashU students enrolled in Enst 452: International Climate Negotiations Seminar taught by Prof. Beth Martin are able to attend. Each student follows a topic at the conference by attending events and negotiations, as well as connecting with students and leaders from across the world. The 2022 COP, or COP27, was held from November 6th to November 20th in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Attending students shared their experiences at the conference.
Abigail Hunt (’23, Law) recounted her first day at COP: “Landed in Sharm El Sheikh for the COP yesterday. Today has meant connecting with many global NGO leaders and learning more about my role in shaping climate conversations and making a difference.” COP27 was an exciting opportunity for students, as they were able to gain experience in climate negotiations and action, as well as meet other climate-focused students and diplomats.
Kyra Sadet Ruben (’23, International Relations Major) recalled:
“Day 1 of #COP27 down! Got to attend some amazing panel discussions on locally led resilience and gender, youth, and climate change, experience the chaos of diplomatic negotiations first-hand at high-level ministerial, and drank so much mango juice. This conference and the people here are absolutely amazing, but it’s equally as overwhelming. I’m having such a great time with #wustlatcop, and feeling incredibly grateful to share this experience with my classmates and other youth from around the world.”
Students were able to focus on topics that interested them and learn by watching negotiations and seeing climate action develop firsthand. Sejal Rajamani (’23, Environmental Biology Major, Psychology and Legal Studies Minors) recalled her experience observing a negotiation about the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage: “It was a super cool experience to hear a lot of initial agreement on some very important topics in the climate change world and I hope to see more progress at future meetings!”
Many students also got the opportunity to meet climate activists and world leaders. Zainab Mairaj (’23, Environmental Analysis and Statistics Majors) highlighted: “the prime minister of the Ivory Coast and his bodyguards sat down at my table for lunch today! We all enjoyed the buffet available and its many options. Very glad I got to try new food.” Allison Fabrizio (’23, Environmental Analysis Major, Dance Minor), explained how she “had the privilege to listen to the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley. She keeps it real no matter what and has amazing messages for our future BIPOC climate leaders.” Other students recounted their excitement at meeting figures such as Al Gore and John Kerry.
Students who attended COP27 recalled the opportunity as an insightful and enjoyable experience. Abigail Hunt explained, “I’m grateful that I am able to have a space to share what I have learned here and where I can apply my interests.” COP27 provided students an opportunity to exhibit their skills and advance their experience and knowledge in climate action, as well as allowing them to connect with students and diplomats from across the globe.