“Call me Isaiah,” the man from Uganda said. A laugh broke out and what had been a faint glint in his eye turned to a roaring smile as we swapped stories of our homelands.
“You have all that snow and you truck it away? All that freshwater, such a waste,” he says as I explain how our Spring floods can impact farmers and residents along the Wolastoq and in our cities. “You are so blessed,” he tells me, “and it must cost so much and use so much fuel, to discard what many of us need.”
He is right, yet we all have unique challenges to share, just as one person’s curse is another’s blessing. One thought that enters my head is undeniable in its resolution: it is through our gathering and acknowledging of these perspectives that advances will be made, and that meaningful transformation will take place.
Therein lies the power of a gathering such as the United Nations, for despite the sea of acronyms, the rigid diplomatic protocols, and the overwhelming size of the institutions within it, where else can you have these interactions, and discuss them with requisite intelligence and wit while a thousand other conversations like it take place all around you. This was my experience in Katowice, Poland this past week, as I joined ten thousand others from across the planet for COP24, this year’s UN Climate Change Conference. Over the coming weeks I will be sharing a few of my stories and thoughts from my role as Observer and Delegate at this global Conference of the Parties, how the decisions made there will impact New Brunswick, and what we can all do to forge a dialogue of understanding, much as the one described above between yours truly and my new friend from Uganda.
“I would love to visit Canada some day, it sounds beautiful,” my friend says, “you have so much space, it must be something.”
With a final roar of laughter he proclaims, “Just maybe not when there is all that snow!”