One thing I learnt from the COY is that there is no better way to get people’s attention then suddenly running around, singing and dancing in a crowd of people doing nothing; because that’s exactly what we did. I have only ever been to a handful of conferences, none of them as big as the COY, well at least I didn’t think so. On the outside, it just seemed a little disorganised, people didn’t really know where to go, everyone looked a little lost, but other than that, a functioning conference. What wasn’t so clear from the outside was that it was unorganised for a reason, but it was not on purpose.
DISCLAIMER** As I was not at the meeting, this is just second-hand news, it is also biased, so please take it lightly. Since the COY has started, a group called YoungO has been organising, preparing and running the Conference Of Youth. That’s what happened in Paris last year, which was most likely why it was so different this year in Marrakech. What I didn’t know, and what I was informed on by other seniors in Earthbound who attended a YoungO meeting at the COY, was that ever since the COY11 in Paris, a Moroccan youth group had been planning and preparing to organise the COY12 in Marrakech. The King of Morocco then intervened and started changing everything around from what this youth group wanted it to be like. They were really unhappy with the changes and decided to step out and essentially quit organising. Since YoungO has been a huge part of the COY process for a while, they of course, were involved, but from what I have been told (which is what my peers were also told) is that there were many disagreements and they were completely out of the loop. Due to this disorganisation and these complications, they were also not running the show. This left poor COY in fragments, so when we showed up there were bits and pieces of different groups here and there leaving an odd and disorganised feeling about it.
It may sound as if the whole conference was completely off, but overall I think we really enjoyed ourselves, that was until lunch time. On the first day.
What do you do with a group compromised of mostly vegetarians and people who feel very strongly against single-use packaging when the lunch you are provided is meat sandwiches wrapped in plastic in a box with a Coca-Cola? Well if you are a bunch of environmental activists who feel very strongly about a lot of things, you do something about it. It was like a joke to us, we actually laughed out loud. At a climate conference, we were being given meat (the meat industry is one of the most detrimental to the environment, with animal agriculture consuming 34-76 million gallons of water annually), cans of Coca-Cola and Fanta (a huge corporation that not only produces one of the most unhealthy soft drinks but has violated polluting laws in various factories), and cardboard boxes filled with plastic packaged food. It didn’t take long for us to come up with a way to silently protest this ironic situation; we simply spelt out COY12 in the boxes and cans and let the crowds take photos. And what do you know? The next day, there were 400 vegetarian meals served, albeit still in the same packaging with a can of soft drink, but it was one win, right?
In Green School fashion, we made something that was a little all over the place into something better. At the Earthbound, Bye Bye Plastic Bags, and GS Green Generation booths there was an art installation, William was manning the booth whilst playing guitar, there were several flash mob style performances, a COY12 mural, and a whole lot of singing and music throughout the days. I came there with an expectation of attending somewhat of a formal conference, where I would be in and out of workshops all day, with a couple performances on the side, but my expectations were not at all the reality. That didn’t matter; we made it something. I painted alongside strangers, writing down messages of hope for our future climate, I danced and sang with fellow Earth bounders, I learnt in depth about Indigenous Sovereignty, I connected with people from all over Morocco, and I tried my best to explain what on earth Green School was in French. At the end of the day who cares about the politics behind conferences like these. Even if I wasn’t able to eat the lunch for a day, even though there was a whole lot of waste that came with lunch, and even though it wasn’t as organized and put together as previous COY’s, I enjoyed myself and I learnt a lot about the youth of today. We don’t need it to be serious event with suit’s and tie’s to be able to educate each other on the reality of our earth and the solutions we can take for a better future.