2 December 2015 | Category: COP21

‘Little’ Things

By Jessica de Koning

Jessica de Koning is research coordinator of REDD+ research ...

A long evening walk along the Seine is perfect to clear the mind from all the big impressions. The terrorist attacks have already been mentioned before in previous blogs, but I find Paris still very accessible. Not at all how I imagined a ‘city under siege’. I was standing on one of the bridges of Ile de la Cité and looking at the massive amounts of cars driving along side the Seine. To my right, a young couple in love was kissing. ‘Little’ things like that make Paris appear almost normal

Today I was present at a side event on wetlands and their potential for climate mitigation. Wetlands, or in this case peat lands, actually did come up during yesterdays presentation of Wageningen research at the Netherlands climate house. It is a very current topic and the carbon sinc of wetlands appear to be big. This means that peat lands are capable of absorbing carbon dioxide emissions, which is of course, good for the climate. But there is more. Peat lands in Indonesia also prove to be a good way of protecting the coast against extreme events. And these peat lands are also attractive for tourist. A triple win? It seems that way.

This side event took place at the US centre at the COP21. The US centre at the COP is, as one would expect, top of the bill. They have a 3D globe (called Science on a Sphere, or SOS) hanging from the ceiling. This globe can be used for presentation, or as a very fancy Christmas ornament, and is incredibly good at showing the consequences of climate change for different parts of the world. It shows clouds, temperature patterns, day and night images of the earth, and more. The data truly comes alive here. All of course operated via a fancy touchpad. They also have something they call a ‘hyperwall’ which also does something but I am not yet sure what. The size and the innovative technology of this US centre nicely relates to the size of the whole COP. Leave it to the Americans to make a good impression. The French, the Arab or the EU countries also have sizable pavilions, but no 3D globe though. But it is that ‘little’ detail that sets the US apart from the rest.

Back to the content of the side event in the US centre. Gabon gave a presentation on its own biodiversity. They have been working hard in developing maps with all kinds of data on biodiversity and possibilities to fight climate change. This interesting presentation was made quite personal when the presenter included questions from schoolchildren in the discussion. Although it seemed like a small gesture, it is actually quite trivial. Include children in climate change. Engage them early on in replanting trees or, and this is perhaps more relevant for the Netherlands, involve them in making gardens better capable of dealing with increased rainfall by planting more plants. I liked it that the Gabon presenter dared to use extra time to present the opinions of the schoolchildren (and therefore delayed the fancy presentation of the SOS globe). Again, ‘little’ things like that makes the COP much more alive.

By Jessica de Koning

Jessica de Koning is research coordinator of REDD+ research at Wageningen University.

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