A reminder that people, not words, are what's important


I spent two full days at the UN Climate Change Conference in Poznan. Until then my knowledge of these issues was very vague and abstract. I could barely grasp what was happening when TV cameras zoomed on the meeting. I have to admit, that two days later I am not much wiser.

The good news is that I can see what drives the UN conference. It is the spirit of the many dedicated organizations like CARE, the negotiation games, the diplomatic maneuvering of the country delegations, the reporting of outcomes and obstacles by the journalists and current events such as the global financial crisis. If you take this mixture into a conference center for two weeks, the outcome will be marathon discussions with on a wide range of topics by a diverse pool of people. The differences could not be starker: developing countries with a small team of sometimes one or two delegates face delegations of 40 members’”my own country Germany, for instance’”that can afford to cover most topics and send at least one specialist in working group sessions. Island states that risk loosing their land to rising sea levels stand in contrast to rich industrialized nations where climate change seems to be less of a priority than the financial crisis. Important issues are easily sidelined in the fight around word choice. The most important reason why we are here and why CARE is so engaged in this process is people. I am talking about people that suffer today and that will continue to suffer in the future. The UN conference is as far away from the inhabitants of Niger, Ghana or Vietnam as the sun is from the Earth. However, without the sun, the earth would not spin. I am happy to work with such an outstanding CARE climate change team here in Poznan. These are colleagues who live and work in Ghana, Kenya and Denmark. They are the ones who will put their very best effort and hour of the day into of the next two weeks of this UN Conference to make sure that the earth is spinning in the right direction.