Educating for change Inside the Walls of COP Negotiations: A Young Argentinian’s Experience at COP28

Educating for change Inside the Walls of COP Negotiations: A Young Argentinians’s Experience at COP28

By Bruno Sirote
27 / 02 / 2024
Image credit: Bruno Sirote

Several months ago, I embarked on a journey that would take me to unexpected places.

I’ve been a climate activist for over five years now, but working on advocacy, education, and communication is not the same as acquiring technical knowledge on topics such as international negotiations, loss and damage or specific impacts of the climate and ecological crisis on communities and the ways to address them.

Seeking Meaningful Contribution

As I started my journey towards COP28 and prepared myself to contribute to the work of the organizations I usually work for, I felt like there was something else I should be doing. That I should be contributing in a more meaningful way. And this is where the New Generation Fellowship Program came in.

I remember the excitement I felt when I received the email saying that I got into the New Generation Fellowship on Loss and Damage Program, I couldn’t even fathom the deep impact that this journey would have on my life. Suddenly I was learning from world class experts about loss and damage, negotiation techniques, policy analysis, writing policy briefs and several other skills that would take my professional expertise to the next level.

Empowering New Generation

So, a journey began to expand my knowledge and enhance my action at the upcoming COP28 conference, while meeting new people, and learning from inspiring colleagues, and dedicated professionals.The thematic workshops that our group received and the exercises that we had to undertake in the build-up to COP28, were game changers. When I arrived at COP28, I was ready to have informed conversations with several stakeholders, deepen my relationship with the official delegation of Argentina, and create quality content on the outcomes of COP28 on loss and damage.

There, I got to meet several heads of state, negotiators and global north decision-makers, and what would otherwise be shallow conversations and performative demands being spat out at their faces where now concrete proposals to improve the living conditions of vulnerable people, the response capacity to loss and damage, and resilience in global south countries.

But this growth did not come only with good news, while I was more informed and prepared to make concrete demands to those who have the means to change the circumstances of global south countries, the depth exposed the very real limits of consensus that can be achieved between our developing and vulnerable countries and those in the global north and the limit to the understanding of global north countries, in regards to the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities.

In this journey I encountered policy makers, who would openly disregard the direct responsibility of their countries in the making of the climate crisis, and consequently development of slow onset events, and extreme weather events that result in losses and damages in developing countries.

Coping with situations like this can be frustrating and complicated, but luckily, I had the support of my colleagues and mentors who helped me through those difficult situations.

Challenges Amidst Change

COP28 came at a delicate moment for Argentina as well. We had recently had elections and an ultra-right president was elected. This meant big changes in climate policy for Argentina being that the new administration openly recognizes themselves as climate deniers.

With big changes in negotiating teams, building a long lasting relationship with the Argentine government became ever more difficult, and the possibilities of me becoming an official negotiator for Argentina grew more unlikely.

As these hard situations unfolded, the New Generation team was unconditionally there for support, guiding me and helping me maximize my impact there where I was still able to make a change.

Coming back from COP and getting to focus on mental health was essential to be able to process everything that had happened at the conference and prepare the post-conference work.In that sense, getting the time to write an in-depth review of the outcomes of COP28 in regards to loss and damage was very valuable, and it allowed me to develop well thought content that can help activists, advocates, negotiators and government officials take well informed decisions and create impactful campaigns.

Reflection and Action

The primary lessons I’ve taken from this experience is the profound impact of education in empowering future leaders. It highlights the critical needs to prioritize  professional development  of young people in the fields  relevant to climate change. In doing so,  we can cultivate a new generation of leaders who are invested in addressing this pressing issue. New generation leaders who possess a comprehensive understanding of the global dimensions of climate change and the importance of collaborative efforts in finding  solutions, are able to navigate complex discussions and negotiations inherent to climate challenges, and have the technical expertise  necessary to effectively contribute to addressing climate change.

Bruno Sirote is a proactive activist from Argentina with a passion for storytelling. He became interested in climate change and the environment at a very young age, and learnt how cruel the consequences of climate change can be in the worst possible way, when his city of La Plata flooded back in 2013, leaving dozens of deaths. In 2018 he started doing activism in the human rights agenda, focusing on sexual and reproductive rights and in 2021 he founded a chapter of Youth for Climate in his hometown. Since then, he's participated of several international and national events and campaigns on environment, climate and human rights such as the RCOY LAC 2021, The Escazú COP2, COP27, The global forum on human rights, the 7th workshop for the development of the GGA, and many other events. Besides this, he has a communication project on instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn and is part of Jóvenes por el Clima Argentina, the Global Youth Coalition and YOUNGO's Communication and Adaptation Working Groups.