Thursday, December 17, 2009

COP15: Wrap up Day

NGOs have limited admittance to the Bella Center as of Tuesday, and today very few NGO participants were able to access the Conference venue. Instead, we were productive at the Scout Center compiling details from our experiences and following the negotiations carefully with a live stream. We took turns writing careful summaries from the speeches by different countries’ heads of state and high level politicians. Gabi says “We were impressed that Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives of the U.S. Congress, emphasized the importance of support for women as a vulnerable group affected by climate change.”

We worked at several stations this morning to record our partnerships, media highlights, and to compile our photographs and videos. Margrethe enjoyed working with the media for WAGGGS. She searched for articles, interviews, and photos of our delegation on the Internet. She was especially excited about the photo that she found about Abby holding two koalas!

We also learned about Advocacy for WAGGGS and brainstormed ideas for international climate change programming for girls and young women. Among the top ideas were to focus on mitigation and adaptation. We talked about having several badges for different environmental resources such as water, sun, and air. It is also important to us that the environmental program material is accessible in different languages, affordable, and fun for girls.

Tonight we all celebrated our hard work the last two weeks with a delicious Danish dinner at a restaurant. Miriam says “It was really nice to bond with everyone over dinner.”

We will continue to reflect on our experiences at COP15, finish our project summaries and COP15 reports, and strategize plans of action of how to engage our fellow Girl Guides, Girl Scouts, and communities in our own countries on climate change issues.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

COP15: Day 10

My meeting last night with Barbara De Rosa-Joynt went very well! We spoke for an hour, and it was great to learn more about her career with the US State Department and the art of negotiating. I learned that she was first exposed to international relations with a trip to the UN in NY with her Girl Scout troop.

Last night, I sat next to Jonathan Pershing at the US Briefing! It went well, and it was nice to get an update on the negotiations after a full day of meetings and side events.

Today, Sarah represented WAGGGS on behalf of the Americans here with the delegation at the Bella Center. I participated as a “spoke” at the YOUNGO Spokes-council meeting this morning. I voted on three proposals on behalf of WAGGGS.

Afterwards, Sara-Linnea ad I attended the Klima Forum. We learned all about solar energy in India and the importance of increasing the efficiency of technologies. I also interviewed two members of Soroptimist International who are advocates of WAGGGS and explored the exhibition area. There were some demonstrations in the city, so it took some extra time to travel home on the bus, train, and metro!

This evening I worked on several articles for the Communications Working Group. We all enjoyed a candle lit supper and watched the snow accumulate. It is beautiful here, and it is still snowing!

Tomorrow will be a full day of debrief at the Scout Center, following the negotiations from our “Command Center” at the Scout Center, and starting to plan and brainstorm what we will do with our new knowledge about climate change and understanding about international policies when we get home to our own countries.

Yours Truly in Guiding and Scouting,

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

COP15: Day 9

The level of security at the Bella Center is high. There is overcrowding outside the Bella Center, so the metro stop at the Center is closed. Thousands, including myself, walked to the Center from a nearby metro station.

This morning, I got a special pass to attend a session with Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California. It was exciting to hear him speak. He said that an international agreement is not all that is needed to make progress in the climate change movement. He recognized that governments, with the cooperation of cities, states, provinces, regions, corporations, activists, scientists, and universities are part of the movement towards a cleaner future. Change and progress require people to work together and take action. He challenges people, nations, and cities to lead by example in the climate change movement.

Today only 7,000 NGO accredited participants were allowed to enter the Bella Center, compared to about 15,000 that have been attending the conference daily. WAGGGS can only have 11 accredited individuals inside the Bella Center, but we are thankful to WOSM for sharing some of their extra badges with us today. Still, not all of the WAGGGS delegation was able to come to the Bella Center today. I am here on behalf of the Americans in our delegation, and tomorrow Sarah and Maria will attend to represent WAGGGS and USA.

I attended US Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack’s presentation this afternoon. Last week, the afternoon presentation by Secretaries of State had a strong youth presence, but today, I was surrounded by party members and accomplished NGO participants. I felt very lucky to be in the room for the presentation about climate change and US agriculture. Vilsack announced an agreement between the USDA and US dairy producers to use manure for energy projects on farms. This will help curb CO2 emissions on farms.

This morning, the Gender YOUNGO group met, and we are in the process of finalizing our policy recommendations and policy summaries that we will hand-distribute to negotiators this afternoon and tomorrow. I have a meeting pending for this afternoon with Barbara De Rosa-Joynt, who is the Multilateral Initiatives Coordinator of the US State Department. I delivered a policy draft to one of her colleagues yesterday about the Capacity Building section. She is a former GIRL SCOUT and is interested in learning more about our mission here at COP15.

This afternoon, I will attend some more side events, talk to people about youth and women in the text, hopefully meet with Barbara, and collaborate with US Youth on writing questions for the US Delegation Briefing with Jonathan Perhing tonight.

COP15: Day 8

Today I focused on women and climate change at COP15. I began the day by finalizing the language for Heads of State and delegations in regards to youth in the text. This working group is a sub-policy working group in YOUNGO that I have been working with for the past week. In addition to youth in the text, we address girls and young women in our policy recommendations.

Next, I attended the Women’s Caucus. After recapping the events of the weekend, we discussed the language for speaking to others about women’s issues. I spoke up about the importance of including “girls and young women” in the text. My message was challenged by different opinions, but it was nonetheless a good conversation.

Next, I participated in the newly formed Gender YOUNGO group with many of my WAGGGS and YOUNGO colleagues as well as a group of women from South Africa that I met at the Women’s Caucus. We will work very hard over the next few days to provide policy draft recommendations for negotiators.

In the afternoon, I attended a session by the Secretary of Energy, Mr. Stephen Chu. He spoke about the importance of standards to drive energy efficiency. I attended part of the EU Adaptation session afterwards and learned about the EU’s stance on regional adaptation strategies.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon at the “Women for Climate Justice” session. Four panelists from large NGOs including CARE, Oxfam, and the Asian Development Bank spoke about their programs and their focus on women. I learned that indoor smoke is the 4th killer of women and children in the developing world. 80% of African food is produced by women, and globally, women make up the majority of the agriculture sector. The discussions focused around the mantra, “No climate justice without gender justice.” Women are agents of change and need to be educated, empowered, and part of decision-making processes.

In the evening, I attended the daily US Youth meeting and then drafted a letter for the US negotiators on capacity building. I attached a draft proposed by Switzerland to my letter and brought it to the US Delegation office. It was exciting to meet members of the US Party at the office.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

COP15: weekend!

This weekend has been well spent debriefing, sleeping, strategizing, and meeting new scouts!

On Saturday, we woke up and enjoyed breakfast at "Speedy's Pancake Parlor." What a nice treat it was to have pancakes and jam. Afterwards, we debriefed as a delegation. We reflected on our experience individually, in small groups, and as a whole delegation. It is very important that we talk about our experiences and understand our role for week 2 at COP15.

In the afternoon, part of our delegation rested, some did laundry, and others marched in the "Flood in Copenhagen" with about 100,000 advocates for a bold, science-based, and just policy on climate change. I did laundry and worked on my knitting project while we waited! I also went grocery shopping with my patrol last night.

On Sunday, I attended the "Bright Green" exhibition in Copenhagen. I learned more about technology in renewable energy sources.

We also met with the Princess of Denmark! It was very exciting to meet her with the other scouts.

Today is the celebration of St. Lucia, so tonight we will sing songs to commemorate and celebrate St. Lucia.

I now feel recovered from my first week of COP15 and look forward to the events of week 2!

Yours Truly in Guding and Scouting,

Saturday, December 12, 2009

COP15: Day 5

Courage, Confidence, and Character.

As I reflect on the past week, I think about the challenges that we face as a world, as nations, and as individuals. The two weeks of the COP15 meeting are important in addressing the issue of climate change for the future of our world. We rely on the moral leadership and courage of our decision-makers and work together to try to positively impact the future policies of our planet.

As a WAGGGS delegation, we have networked with many other organizations and other youth. Next week, we will further these connections and take leadership in the final drafts of policies that we present to delegates. We will focus on the importance of writing women, youth, and indigenous people in the text for the environmental policy. By working together with other organizations, our voice will be stronger in our final presentation to the delegates and heads of state. The youth in the text policy working group that I have been involved with this week finalized its language. Next week, our language will be presented to the YOUNGO (Youth NGOs) spokes council meeting. Hopefully, our policy proposal will be considered and included in the new environmental policy of the world.

Today I had the opportunity to present the GSUSA Forever Green program and discuss what Girl Scouts in the US are doing to reduce carbon emissions! I served as a panelist in a session after Lynne Cherry’s videos about children doing projects in the environment. Lynne is also the author of children’s books that educate kids about the environment.

I attended Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke’s, side-event discussion on energy security, energy efficiency, and green jobs. He says, "The climate change challenge is relatively simple. We can make changes now, or we will have to make changes later." He warned that our children will question our inaction if we do not take action now. We need to rethink the way we produce and consume energy.

Today, my patrol was in charge of the stand. I have not seen any children at the conference, but while I was at the stand, I met two young girls from Korea who were with their parents. Their parents were with the press and carried large video cameras. The girls were very grateful and excited when I gave them the WAGGGS Climate Change Challenge booklet and badges.

After the panel in the climate rescue station, we took pictures with the ice scuptures! Thank you to Paul, our WAGGGS photographer, for all of the photos!

Yours Truly in Guiding and Scouting,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

COP15: Day 4

The two highlights of my day occurred within the one hour timeframe of US Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar’s, presentation. First, I was photographed by the Associated Press (AP) just before the start of his presentation. Since the news and photos by the AP are published by newspapers all over the world, my picture can now be found in many different news sources all over the world! It is a pretty intense photo of me writing notes from Maria’s laptop, but it is great nonetheless. After Ken Salazar’s presentation, I was chosen to ask him the second question! I asked about how the Department of the Interior is engaging in the legislativ

e process to ensure that a bold, science-based policy passes through the US Senate. I introduced myself, spoke well, and was very proud of myself! Ken Salazar then used my name twice in his response which was really exciting!

This is a link to my photo in the AP:

Sarah, Miriam, and Linden were interviewed today by Climate Change TV.

Today was “Youth and Future Generations Day.” All of the youth wore bright orange t-shirts. It was great to be so united with all of the other youth at the conference.

This evening, I met with all of the US youth, and we learned about the legal rights of presidents to sign treaties. Afterwards, I attended a special event for the Chinese and American youth. It was great to have dinner with the Chinese youth. We shared our stories and broke
cultural barriers in the hopes that our governments will one day collaborate and understand one another better.

Yours Truly in Guiding and Scouting,


COP15: Day 3

Hello, here is a delayed update from yesterday at COP15! This is the blog post that my patrol wrote last night that summarizes the highlights of our day.

Lisa Jackson of the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) met with a group of eight youth this morning, including our very own, Miriam and Mirna. Miriiam says:

I was pleasantly surprised by Lisa Jackson’s humbleness towards the
youth. She listened to what each youth had to say. She recognizes that
the youth voice is a crucial voice in the deliberations.
One of the participants said that “climate solution is human solution.” We need to look for the opportunities that come out of climate change and address them with innovative and creative strategies. What new opportunities can we embrace from the current situation? We need to adopt more efficient and effective strategies in terms of our lifestyle and behaviors to improve the environment.

Four members of our delegation spent the day at a Danish school and led climate games. Margrethe noted the enthusiasm of the children. She says:

Through the games, the children learned that climate negotiations are not easy,
that people are often misinformed about the climate, and that some facts are

The children were enthusiastic and happy to speak with the WAGGGS representatives about climate change and what the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts are doing around the world. The children made green handprints and notes of messages that they would like to be presented by us on their behalf at COP15.

Two young people, a young girl from the Salmon Islands and a boy from Morocco shared their stories during the press conference of the International Youth Climate Movement. They announced that tomorrow will be the Youth Future Generation action day. WAGGGS will run a side event right after the ribbon cutting.

Other members of our delegation attended many different side events. Gabi attended a very promising session about Finland. She says:
I think that it is pretty cool that Finland declared to cut their CO2 emission
level by 40 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050. This is greater than the
emission level that was set as a target by the EU.
Our whole delegation took photos with Mr. Jacques Diouf, the director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It was a good opportunity to thank Mr. Diouf for the cooperation between FAO and WAGGGS in the production of the Food Security and Climate Change Challenge Badge.

This evening, Ostara and Prisca presented what they are doing to reduce CO2 emissions within their national associations. They talked about their projects and shared the effectiveness of involving girls and young women in combating climate change.

Also this evening, Miriam and Emily enjoyed a home cooked Danish meal with a group of a dozen accomplished women who are members of the women’s non-profit organization, Soroptimist International. Emily says:
It was inspiring and so exciting to enjoy a meal and conversation with women who
hold high leadership positions within international organizations. These
women are making a difference in developing communities.
Your Truly in Guiding and Scouting,

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

COP15: Day 2

Today was another exciting day at COP15! Our orientation yesterday helped us feel more confident in the COP15 environment today despite the size of the building, number of people, and frequency of flashing cameras.

Sarah represented WAGGGS in the spokes-council meeting this morning. In other sessions, members of our delegation spoke with nonprofit organizations about women, gender issues, and reproductive rights. Our delegation attended working group meetings, interviewed people with flip cams, asked questions at various sessions, and shook hands with many new people from around the world.

The WAGGGS delegation held a side event that was very successful! We wrote “1 voice” on our foreheads to represent the one, unified voice of girls and young women. We did the human knot, a millionaire quiz, and shared information about our key messages and the climate change badge.

This evening, Sarah and Maria attended a session by the US delegation. They had the opportunity to talk about Girl Scouting with Lisa Jackson who is the Administrator of the EPA in the US after the meeting. Earlier in the day, I listened to Jackson speak as a panelist in a session entitled, “The Contribution of Biofuels to Climate Change Mitigation in Brazil.” Jackson supports Girl Scouts, and we are excited for our meeting with her tomorrow afternoon. Jackson is well-known for declaring, yesterday, that carbon dioxide and five other green house gases threaten public health. Women’s bodies are more vulnerable to health concerns pertaining to climate change, so now we need to push for the US to sign a real deal to take responsibility for climate change.

Our email inboxes are flooding with messages from youth working groups and US youth working groups at COP15. We are looking forward to getting more involved with the US youth working group, continuing to spread WAGGGS key messages, and planning our own action.

Yours Truly in Guiding and Scouting,


Monday, December 7, 2009

COP15: Day 1

Our first day at COP15 was awesome!

This morning, there was so much energy outside the Bella Center with activists distributing pins and pamphlets. We showed our passes several times before making it to the exhibition hall where we setup our WAGGGS exhibit. We are sharing our WAGGGS exhibit with the World Association of the Scout Movement (WOSM).

At 10:30, the WAGGS delegation was a special guest at the UNICEF press conference. We listened to a panel with eight youth climate ambassadors, age 14-17, who attended the Children’s Climate Forum last week. The Children’s Climate Forum was a seven-day event with 164 participants from 44 countries. The youth formulated a Climate Declaration document where they promise to commit to personal lifestyle changes for the “common good” and engage with their governments to combat climate change.

It was very inspiring to hear the voices of the eight teenagers from developing nations speak. As part of the communications working group, Nellie, Margrethe, Julie, and I drafted several questions, of which our WAGGGS delegation asked two during the panel session! We asked questions about how girls and young women are affected by climate change in their countries. Angelique Kidjo, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and musician and Anggun, FAO Goodwill Ambassador and musician moderated the panel. Jacques Diouf, FAO Director General, introduced the session. Our WAGGGS delegation photographer Paul took photos of our delegation with the panel afterwards.

After lunch, I attended a session on women and the environment. Three women from different nations presented their stories about how women in their countries are impacted by climate change. There is a lack of gender equality in the climate change policy, and these women stressed the importance of gender in the text. It is also important to use the resources of women’s organizations and women’s networks to empower women to contribute to their communities (for example, WAGGGS!).

Next, the YOUNGO performed an action outside of the main plenary hall. We sang and danced to a climate song. There were so many cameras focused on the youth, and it was a fun action to perform as a unified group working toward climate justice and change.

Then, we all chased Linden through the corridor to listen to the Danish Prime Minister speak. It was very exciting.

Later in the afternoon, I spoke with many people who visited the Guides and Scouts stand in the exhibition area. It was nice to meet Guides, Scouts, and volunteers from other nations who were so excited to meet us and learn about what girls and young women are doing around the world to combat climate change.

In the early evening I attended a screening of “The Age of Stupid.” The screening was in a dome outside, and the movie was filled with facts about global warming. The film painted a picture of a bleak future for humanity if the temperature is not stabilized NOW.

This evening, Miriam, Gabi, and I attended the International Coordination Meeting of Youth Organizations (ICMYC). We represented WAGGGS at this meeting. On our way to the meeting we went on an adventure around Copenhagen in the dark before finding our destination with the help of our map. At the meeting, we discussed the potential and the importance of the international youth organizations to work together to get youth in the text of the policy. This group will meet every other day over the course of the next two weeks.

It was a long and busy day! I am looking forward to some sleep and the many more meetings at COP15 tomorrow. My patrol is responsible for making dinner tomorrow, and Miriam is going to teach us how to make a Kenyan rice dish.

Yours Truly in Guiding and Scouting,


Sunday, December 6, 2009

Conference of Youth--Day 2

Today was the second and final day of the Conference of Youth. I learned more about climate change issues and joined discussions to contribute to the youth voice in addressing particular issues.

One of the young women in my delegation, Sara-Linnea, welcomed all of the youth at the conference this morning.

I attended a workshop about the Land Use, Land-Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) policy. I learned about the importance of protecting the world’s intact forests and allowing degraded forests to recover. Hopefully, carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in all countries will be reduced.

I participated in a second workshop about carbon trading. We discussed the problem with carbon trading on sustainable development and learned about the economics surrounding the issue.

After lunch, we divided ourselves into regional groups. I joined the US group and discussed communications with the US working group. It was the first time since being at the here that I really focused on American issues. It was empowering to setup youth goals for the US with an understanding of the vision of the youth of the world.

This afternoon, we finally received our credentials for the UN Climate Change Conference at the Bella Center. Very exciting!!

Tomorrow COP15 officially begins.

Yours truly in guiding and scouting,


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Conference of Youth--Day 1

Today was our first day at the Conference of Youth. It was empowering to discuss climate change with many youth from around the world. My patrol group's duty today was to write the blog entry on the WAGGGS website. It gives a good overview of our day!

“My day was fantabulus!” Miriam exclaimed when she arrived back at the Holmen Scout Center in Copenhagen after a full day of workshops and seminars at the Conference of Youth. About 400 youth from around the world participated. Climate change is a concern for every youth in the world. It was very impressive to engage in the conversation with over 400 youth to discuss strategies to address climate change.

We began the conference with activities to meet other youth. We learned what it feels like to be a leader and a follower.

In the morning, four members of our delegation, Fred, Prisca, Luiza, and Gabi, also took the challenge of holding workshops. They discussed the topic of effective group facilitating with other youth delegates as part of the preparation and empowerment for the UN Climate Change Conference. During this time the other young women took part in other workshops about varying issues, including youth and media, Reduction of Emissions for Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) and social justice, the process of the UN Framework for Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and activism.

In the open space sessions, we formed small groups with the other youth and discussed our goals for COP15, what we want to learn from the conference, and how to take advantage of the opportunities and failures at COP15. We also shared what we want to do after the conference in our own countries. The primary goal discussed was to form one strong and unified youth voice to take a stand on climate change at the conference and communicate the importance of change to the political leaders of our countries.

“I got amazingly emotional to hear the inspirational stories of two young women on how they started to work on the issue of climate change and involving other youth in the movement,” said Prisca. Hearing the personal stories reminded us that many youth, including ourselves make an impact through our work all over the world.

This evening, we celebrated our diversity with an international dessert exchange. It was tasty to try desserts from around the world.

Tomorrow we will continue to participate in the Conference of Youth. We look forward to another day of learning, networking, and collaborating with other youth on a united message to present at COP15.

Thanks for reading,


Friday, December 4, 2009

Climate Change Conference Preparations in Copenhagen

I am now in Copenhagen! I wrote a collaborative blog entry with the other two American WAAAGS delegates today that is posted below.

"Hi! We are the Girl Scouts of the USA delegates at COP15, aka the UN Climate Change Conference. We are: Emily Rodriguez (NY), Maria Panaccione (WV), Sarah Kelty (KY).

Today was our first day of action in Copenhagen, Denmark with the World Association of Girl Guide and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). We spent the day in an orientation/training at the Danish Scout headquarters--the Holmen Center--here in Copenhagen.

We are part of a delegation of 19 young women ages 18-25 who represent the 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from 145 countries. The other delegates come from 12 other countries, including Brazil, Australia, France, Sweden, Bolivia, Hungary, Kenya, Madagascar, Egypt, Denmark, Lebanon, Germany.

Today, we discussed the key messages we will promote at the Youth Conference (Dec. 5-6) and at COP15, which are:

1. Girls and young women have to be empowered because climate change disproportionately affects them.

2. Youth and civil society need to be a part of the solution to climate change.

3. Governments must strengthen their climate change commitments

We also reviewed our schedule for the next two weeks, which includes youth meetings, seminars, side events, and a special event with the other WAGGGS delegates to meet the Princess of Denmark!

Later, we formed working groups to tackle the different delegation areas: Communications/Blogging, Policy, Nonformal Education, Exhibition Stand, and Side Event/Action. Emily is a part of the Communications group, Maria joined the Policy group, and Sarah is helping out with the Action group.

Tonight we will be sharing our posters of projects within our own countries, such as GSUSA's Forever Green Community Action Project. We are excited to share Girl Scouts' contribution to the climate change movement and to hear about what other Scouts and Guides are doing in the rest of world.

We look forward to the start of the Conference of Youth tomorrow, and hope to keep everyone updated with daily blog entries!

Yours in Guiding and Scouting,
Sarah, Maria, and Emily"

I am looking forward to the start of the Conference of Youth tomorrow. It was exciting to present my poster about the GSUSA Forever Green Community Action Project and to learn the stories of the other young women from around the world. We received our WAGGGS scarves this evening from Linden (Deputy Chair of the World Board) and Bernadette (Advocacy Coordinator at WAGGGS headquarters in London). We are now official delegates of WAGGGS at this world conference which is an honor! Good night. I will try to post photos tomorrow after the conference.

Yours in Guiding and Scouting,

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Preparations for Copenhagen

Welcome to my blog about youth and climate change. My name is Emily Rodriguez, and I will be participating in the UN Climate Change Conference, COP15, in December 2009. I embark on my journey to Copenhagen on December 2. The Conference takes place from 7-18 December, 2009.
I will serve as part of a delegation of young women to represent the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). I am excited for the upcoming opportunity to represent WAGGGS and Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) in Copenhagen.
I will write frequent posts during the conference and continue to write updates with news about the progress of politics towards climate change after the conference. I am interested in learning about the potential impact WAGGGS can have on climate change. I will critically think about how girls and young women can be productive in their local communities to make a difference.