Ambassadors' impressions

Els Beeckx

Being in Bonn at COP23 was quite an intense experience for me in many ways. I felt a bit out of place – like someone who knew so little. I was excited about all the small pieces but somehow felt I was missing the big picture in terms of the whole COP process. Being at the event for five days gave me an excellent opportunity to get to know Climate Alliance from the inside out though and it was great to be a part of that sparkling team! It also felt good to represent Zoersel, my community in Belgium. In Bonn I learned just how special our city partnership with Bohicon in Benin, Africa actually is – I am happy to have presented Zoersel as an example of how a city can bring life to the motto, "think global, act local!" Aside from that, being at COP23 with so many people from all over the world was also quite overwhelming! To me it has been one big cross-pollination of experiences, ideas and (mostly good) vibes. I met so many different people, from dusk until dawn. Some of them made a big impression on me and have tapped into my inner motivation, pushing me to be the change I want to see in the world and go above and beyond to raise awareness on climate change!

Stop talking and start acting! There’s no more time to waste!

Kathrin Bieniek and Verena Nijssen

Peaceful, constructive and full of motivation for a common goal: to fight more climate action. This is how the mood at COP 23 can be described. The bouquet of ideas on climate action and responses to climate change was as colourful as the participants. The Talanoa space, the heart of the Bonn area, radiated its energy to the entire COP23. The exchange of ideas and the international rounds of discussions in a wide variety of configurations intended to bring climate action to the regions. While the rulebook for the Paris Agreement was being negotiated in the neighbouring Bula zone, the “Bonn zone” was all about practice. “Everyone can do something and should do what they are able to do to protect the climate of the earth," stresses Achim Kampker (CEO of Streetscooter). He is quite impressive, with his optimistic view of developments in the electromobility sector. Much more is possible than most people can imagine. Cologne, too, with its new mobility approaches, has plans to reduce the number of parking spaces for cars on its streets and to create more space for bicycle traffic. The exchange with Fiji, the Marshall Islands and other countries threatened by climate change made it clear that we can no longer hesitate, but must act – now!

Don't just talk about it, act now! We want to make it possible for our children to have a future worth living, so we need to act now. Everyone can contribute.

Hannes Lauer

Being a Climate Alliance ambassador at the COP 23 was one of this year’s highlights. Everyday I work on local level mitigation and adaptation measures – certainly not an easy task. This can be frustrating at times, but working in the field of climate change is more than a job for me, it is something I really want to do. As the most important climate event of the year, the COP was definitely the place to be.

As opposed to my everyday work, the COP is a climate bubble – and this felt good! I had the chance to meet like-minded people, listen to interesting talks, learn about new projects and get insight into the practice of climate politics.

One thing that I see more clearly after the COP is the importance of our work in our communities. The days in Bonn have shown me that in these times, when an important country wants to leave the Paris Agreement and when Germany is not fulfilling its role as a leader in mitigation, communities and regions are gaining importance. This lends even more significance to the work I do. I left Bonn in good spirits and feeling enthusiastic.

Action on every level is needed, but it is at the local level that you can see the difference. It is where change actually takes place.

Kerstin Lopes de Carvalho

I am working for climate protection on the local level and got the opportunity to attend the UN World Climate Conference COP23 in Bonn as an Ambassador for Climate Alliance. Summing up, the achievements made at the conference by the States were – in fact – far too few. In spite of this, you could feel a great spirit and the huge will of the civil population to move forward and fight climate change. I was overwhelmed by the amazing and inspiring people I met from all over the world – every one of them striving for the same objectives: a just transition towards a sustainable, environmental-friendly and liveable world.

While governments are negotiating, regular people are acting. This action is essential. It was also sad to learn about the impacts of climate change the world is already facing. Nevertheless, I went home with a good feeling. I saw and heard about the little and big successes people have already made and I realised that there are all kinds of people – from indigenous peoples to business managers, from farmers to scientists, from students to professors, from large groups to individuals – that are willing to fight against climate change and for the sustainable development of our planet. 

Connect, unite, raise your voice and act now! Every one of us can contribute to making our planet great again!

Dieter Prosik

My participation at COP23 in Bonn as Climate Alliance Ambassador brought me full circle in a wonderful way. My interest in sustainable development and climate action was first aroused in 1992 by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro and accompanied me from that point on throughout my studies and career. At the UNCED, important milestones were set such as the Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development and the Framework Convention on Climate Change. These agreements were called into being to address issues of sustainability and climate in concrete terms and to break them down to the local level. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in particular, has since made it possible to hold annual climate conferences such as the one held in Kyoto in 1997 or in Paris in 2015. Now, for the COP23, I was able to be there myself. Like my ambassador colleagues, my experience of the past conferences had come from the media. Through the concept of "one conference – two zones", there were opportunities for me to make contacts within and outside the "Bonn Zone" and to gather formative experiences. I would like to take this opportunity to send my greetings to my wonderful fellow ambassadors – mostly climate protection managers like myself.

COP23 – a laborious struggle with texts and content. Sometimes frustrating, but far better than war and the violent conflicts experienced throughout human history.

Dorothee Rolfsmeyer

It was a pleasure to support Climate Alliance at COP23 by contributing to a side event. A side event may only be a tiny part of this huge conference, but it’s the small steps that make the difference – the one person that I might have motivated, the one small project that might have benefited from my ideas. Thank you Climate Alliance for taking me to COP23. I met inspiring people and learned about exciting projects – as always when taking part in Climate Alliance events!

Don’t wait for what comes out of the Climate Summits. Even if they are the hugely successful – there still is no way to fight climate change without taking action yourself!

Andreas Witt

People from the Marshall Islands along with representatives from Lebanon and many African nations – encounters at the UN Climate Summit. They directly show us, the Climate Alliance ambassadors from Germany and the rest of Europe, that climate change has long become a harsh reality and is not just a boogeyman of the future. The experiences of the people, especially from the global south, reveal a changing climate that is making livelihoods increasingly more difficult. This is a formative impression that I took home with me from Bonn.

Yet cities worldwide show that something can be done for climate protection. They are the blueprint for courageous national climate policy, which, in turn, could push further local climate activity. This would be a positive process, which I hope will also receive further impetus from the climate conference.

Climate action needs people. Through actions and words, each individual can make a difference.

Andreas Wolter

As a member of the Climate Alliance, the City of Cologne was proud to have helped host of the World Climate Conference. There, though a number of meetings, we provided indigenous organisations with a space to discuss their concerns, rainforest protection and land rights. We were the starting point for the Guardians of the Forest's fact-finding trip through several European capitals and hosted the Indigenous Caucus, which was attended by more than 100 participants from all continents. In this way, we have helped ensure that the indigenous peoples' concerns in the fight for climate protection and their land rights are made visible. I was particularly pleased that a representative of our climate partnership community, the FECONAU from Peru, was present.

At the World Climate Change Conference, I was very impressed by the commitment of local and regional authorities prepared to make greater efforts to protect the climate than those promised by their national governments. The phasing out of coal-fired power generation in particular was an important issue here. In view of the forthcoming World Climate Conference in our sister town of Katowice and its coal-mining region, this will continue to be an important topic.

Ambassadors in the Press