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My Top Five: SES Student Rachel Monsey ‘18 reflects on her experience at COP 22 in Marrakech

In November, a cohort of SES Students studying abroad at the Newman Institute in Sweden attended the Conference of the Parties (COP 22) in Marrakech, Morocco. Here, Environmental Policy major Rachel Monsey tells us her top five takeaways from her experience at COP 22.

  1. A conversation with Senegalese Women’s Rights Activist Datt Bintou Tonel.  Bintou is a woman from Senegal working to provide the poorest of the poor with water. She’s also working for the emancipation of women in a country where women are considered second-class citizens. She became very emotional when speaking about her work and wept. This was incredibly powerful to witness. Much of the time, the raw impact of climate change gets lost in statistics. For me, she provided a face to the problem. Bintou made bare her heart and soul for us. She told us about how women and children are dying of heavy metal poisoning or dehydration, and must walk miles every day to collect polluted water. Speakers like Bintou show how cross-cultural connections can create a unified world that fights gender inequality and promotes access to clean water.

  2. Our participation in a Climate Action March. We participated in a climate action march during the second week of COP22 and we were among thousands of likeminded individuals who were demanding climate justice now. This theme of justice pervaded the conference and galvanized thousands to march in the streets of Marrakech shutting down traffic and garnering civilian support. The power of the common person cannot be underestimated even in a time of great political and ideological divide. Climate justice can bring the world together. We need a healthy planet to survive.

  3. We must keep fossil fuel lobbyists out of climate action policy. Enough said.

  4. COP 22 was a meeting for the young. Hundreds of young people participated as delegates from various nations. The involvement of today’s youth is vitally important in combating climate change and in creating a positive future for us all. Throughout COP it has been stressed that bottom-up as well as top-down approaches are important to achieve lasting solutions. The youngest people have the chance to enact the largest changes.

  5. NGOs and Civilian Activism will make a difference. There were hundreds of NGOs and civilian activists present at COP22. It was inspiring and unexpected to see so many people, institutions, and companies working to create the future, and not simply leaving it to the policy makers. This type of activism is now occurring more in the US. This left me feeling excited about the work we can continue to do in climate change advocacy.