Nov 9, 2017

NGOs descend upon Bonn from all corners of the world

 

Iva Nancy Vunikura is in Bonn to save her native island of Fiji from extinction. She is just one of countless non-governmental organization members who have come to Bonn to make their voices heard.

Iva Nancy Vunikura is in Bonn, calling for action to save her native island of Fiji from extinction.

An overwhelming number and variety of organizations, initiatives and groups have come to Bonn from all corners of the world for the climate conference.  They reach beyond the official government delegations. The spectrum ranges from the “All India Women’s Conference”, which represents Indian women’s fight against climate change and for gender equality, to the “Nepal Federation of Indigenous Nationalities”, which highlights indigenous peoples’ contribution to climate protection, to the “World Organization of the Scout Movement “, which also works towards climate protection.

Iva Nancy Vunikura has flown half way around the world to get to Bonn.  She was born in Fiji but her home is really the sea.  She has traversed 60,000 nautical miles in the past few years between the islands of the South Pacific – on a fragile double-masted sailing canoe.  Now she is shyly standing under the artificial light of the tent city in the Bonn zone at a small stand of the organization “Okeanos – Foundation for the Sea.”  The organization uses traditional and modern materials to build small ocean-going catamarans that can connect the islands with low cost travel.  When there is no wind, solar power or coconut oil drives the boats instead of diesel.

„I have seen the consequences of climate change with my own eyes,“ says Vunikura.

“I’ve seen the sea level rise in the Marshall Islands in recent years,” she adds.  Cyclone “Winston”, which struck the Fiji Islands last year and claimed 42 lives, can also be attributed to climate change.  Wind speeds of up to 230 kilometers per hour were new even for the storm-tested islanders.  “This has to do with climate change,” she says.  Now the Fiji native has come to the Rhine in order to be one of about 25,000 Cop23 participants to take action to save the South Pacific island from extinction. “We are here for our voice to be heard,” says Vunikura. “It’s a special world out there. We have to protect it. ”

„Everyone is here“

Not in the endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean, but in the dusty-dry stretches of West Africa, is the organization that Amarys Preuss represents: “The Nubian Vault”.  Founded by a French carpenter and based in Montpellier, France, the initiative took on the task of improving living conditions in the dry areas of the Sahel.  Residential dwellings are built inexpensively and in a climate-friendly manner with local materials such as mud bricks.  “The Nubian Vault” trains local residents how to build this type of home.  “We came to Bonn to meet our partner organizations,” says Preuss. “Everyone is here.” According to Preuss, the organization has built 2,500 houses for 30,000 people and trained 700 local craftsmen.  Still, the French woman remains skeptical about the chances of success for the Cop 23.  She believes we have the technology and the solutions.  “Now we just have to act.”

Karen Hollows, who is British, stands at the booth of “Peace Boat,” a 30-year Japanese initiative that works to promote peace, human rights and sustainable development worldwide. The organization carries out its work using a chartered cruise ship on which passengers can take part in study courses, lectures or cultural events on the high seas and in ports. According to Hollows, the “Ecoship” of their organization, the “world’s greenest cruise ship” runs with 40 percent lower CO 2 emissions compared to conventional vessels of this size. Making her case for the climate, Hollows says, “After all, we’re all in the same boat.”

By Kai Pfund for Generalanzeiger Bonn, 8 November 2017