Day 1 was overwhelmingly amazing. I barely slept with the excitement of knowing I had an observer’s pass into the Blue Zone at COP26! After the first QR code check, the queue outside took almost an hour before we reached the warmer security queue; I guess with thousands of people and airport style security, it was to be expected but we hope it goes a bit quicker for the rest of the week! On collection of our passes we were provided with free travel passes, a reusable (recycled) aluminum water bottle, hand sanitiser and a face mask, which was a small win; however, the big win was the actual pass enabling us to mingle (safely with masks) amongst delegates and world leaders from across the globe. I found it incredible to wander around the pavilion areas and see the vast array of countries and organisations showcasing their work and in their own languages and thoroughly enjoyed zig-zagging around and soaking up the positive and optimistic vibes about climate action for saving our planet.
Highlights from my day include physically entering the zone with the rest of the team and simply squealing with excitement; talking very casually to the CEO of the Eden Project (who I later realised was the CEO after Tracey’s interview with him) about our work at The Word Forest Organisation, planting trees with the local communities in Kenya, whilst receiving my Earthling ID badge (which I was very excited about); bumping into Kenyans working for an environmental agency; taking in the artwork and displays in the corridor, many from children and the global south, sharing pivotal gut-wrenching powerful stories, which will sadly not make it to mainstream media.
It was a brilliantly positive atmosphere, other than the inability to access the World Leader’s Summit, in which, judging from the mainstream media coverage reports, they didn’t share anything new, just the same old “we aim for Net Zero by 2050 (or 2070 in India’s case!)”. The Blue Zone does seem quite elitist, however, we are thankful that it does enable four of us from The Word Forest Organisation to be mingling and networking with CEOs and government officials each day of the conference, which in itself is a huge opportunity for growth and sharing our story.
I am excited about exploring, connecting and networking in the Blue Zone on Day 2 of the World Leaders Summit, now that I am familiar with the layout, the inner zones and which areas our passes give us access to. I also hope to attend some panel discussions and share some insights about what I’ve learned.
Lucy Meredith and The Team