Samuel Chijioke Okorie, From Nigeria
I got involved right from the planning phase in October 2020 and was a spokesperson, as well as a caucus member, and a volunteer for media posting and technical assistance.
Each day of work at Mock COP26 is more interesting than the last, and I am increasingly determined to achieve my goals. So far we have been able to engage with high-level country executives and we anticipate more engagements that would allow the implementation of the Mock COP26 high-level statement.
In Nigeria communication is expensive and we require funding. This also is partly why fixing meetings with policymakers is so difficult: it may take weeks to get a reply.
Though I still enjoy talking to them, getting a direct response from these policymakers is the most interesting part of the job. Lobbying can be very easy with a team that is passionate about the cause.
My end goal focuses on education. In collaboration with schools, I hope to create climate and sustainability-focused education. This should include teacher training – making educators climate and sustainability mentors – as well as getting trained teachers to hold climate and sustainability clubs. Looking to the future I’m open to more work with Mock COP26 and I’m also seeking funding and scholarships for post-graduate studies.
Kelo Uchendu, From Nigeria
My name is Kelo Uchendu and I am from South-East Nigeria, I joined the Mock COP26 team in July 2020 and was one of the Event Coordinators that helped to plan, shape, and host the conference.
As a student, my average working day will usually have to combine school and the Mock COP26 campaign. I have always been an efficient multitasker and I plan my week beforehand with a certain number of hours dedicated to Mock COP26 each week. I cross out the times I have schoolwork on my calendar and try to fit in Mock COP26 during my free time. Being paid for my hours also helps cover certain expenses and internet costs, so I do not have to worry about eating or getting additional work.
We have made considerable progress with lobbying here in Nigeria and have met some high-ranking officials. Just last week we met with a very influential member of parliament Hon. Samuel Ifeanyi Onuigbo, the previous chairman of the Climate Change Committee. He assured us that some of our treaty was covered by the current Climate Change Bill being proposed in the House, which will hopefully be passed into law before COP26. We also have a meeting scheduled on 25th June with the Minister of State for Environment Hon. Sharon Ikeazor, there we will have the opportunity to officially present our treaty as well as to discuss the road to COP26 and how Nigeria can ramp up ambition.
The most difficult part of lobbying work is getting an audience with government officials, most of our messages are ignored, and we must continue pushing, sending many follow-up emails. Politicians can also be tricky to deal with, they may promise to act on our treaty but later abandon it.
I find meeting with high-level officials and helping shape and inform their decisions is very rewarding and interesting. If nothing else, it shows that these people are humans too and that we can aspire to take on such tremendous responsibility as well. The idea that we are re-defining youth climate leadership is fulfilling, and I enjoy collaborating with some of the brightest young people from around the globe as well as getting the opportunity to improve my intercultural competence. One of my key goals is to ensure that our treaty on climate education is implemented nationwide. This is already in progress as it is part of the Climate Change Bill, and we will be Lobbying the Federal Ministry of Education around this goal.
A tip for lobbyists that I have used is to play the Six Degrees of Separation Gambit. This is the idea that all people in the world are six or fewer connections away from each other. So, I reached out to fellow young people and civil society leaders in my immediate network to set up stakeholders’ consultation calls. This was very helpful as the calls connected me to influential individuals who could link us up with high-ranking officials. My advice to anybody experiencing a bump in the road is to try to experiment with the Six Degrees of Separation. I can assure you that you will be impressed with the outcome.
Finally, I want to give a shoutout to all Mock COP26 delegates, volunteers, and campaigners. You guys have been amazing and very supportive. I am very proud of what we have achieved together. STAY THE COURSE FOR HUMANITY.
Malaika Collette, From Canada
My name is Malaika Collette and I am from Canada. I got involved at the start of phase one with Mock COP26 as a volunteer, then became an Event Coordinator and I am now a Campaign Coordinator.
Every day is different for me, I balance my work with Mock COP26 and my personal life by doing what I can when I can, it all depends on my schedule and what needs doing, but I will typically work on Mock COP26 in the morning and later in the evening, as well as on weekends.
The Canada team received a reply from our Minister of Climate Change which was exciting, and we have chosen to focus on policy 2.4 which is the ecocide law. Therefore, we will be collaborating with Stop Ecocide Canada along with our own outreach and political lobbying meetings.
The most difficult part about lobbying is getting meetings with politicians as they are often very busy and take quite a while to reply. Another difficult aspect of lobbying specific to Canada is that an election could be called any day without warning, which makes it hard to plan to lobby with politicians as they could change at any point. Still, I enjoy knowing the difference that each conversation and meeting can have. Another fun part is working with others from Canada towards a common goal.
Our goal is to get policy 2.4 implemented which would mean that our government would acknowledge the crime of ecocide at home and internationally at the International Criminal Court. We hope to achieve this by meeting with politicians across the country, specifically those with the most power in the cabinet. We also hope to get ecocide included in some of the party’s platforms ahead of the next election. Our work will be focused on political outreach and meetings as well as public awareness.
What motivates me is that we can make a difference in Canada and the rest of the world through policy implementation. Each time a country adopts a policy it is a success for us and our lobbying. If you are struggling with your tactics try another method! What works for one country will not always work for another. Every nation is different, every political system is different, so do not give up! Try working on public outreach and growing your team and awareness! Try sending a letter! Try meeting with politicians! And if your country is not being supportive and you are not having much luck then focus your attention elsewhere – maybe on just one city or region!
There is no one way to lobby, just get out there and start contacting your politicians. Chances are it will take a while to hear back, and some will not reply but others will want to meet with you so keep going! Make connections with other groups in your country to increase your strength!
Umesh Balal Magar, From Nepal
I am Umesh Balal Magar from Gulmi, Nepal and I became interested in Mock COP26 through my friend, a Nepali Mock COP26 delegate and I am currently also working as a country coordinator in COY16. Working as a Mock COP26 volunteer is very exciting since I get to learn about global issues and connect with young people from around the world.
So far in Nepal, we have submitted the Mock COP treaty to the Climate Change Management Division of Nepal and are now working on more lobbying plans to get it implemented. I can sometimes get discouraged by the difficulty of attracting policymakers’ attention. It is hard to make people understand the Mock COP26 treaty, especially those who do not have an environmental background. Still, working with energetic, enthusiastic young people who are also passionate about saving Mother Earth encourages me to do more.
Through working in my country and globally I hope to develop my abilities. This will allow me to achieve both my goals. I hope to implement some Mock COP26 treaties in Nepal whilst also raising awareness of the climate crisis among young people and inspiring them to raise their voices for climate justice. My passion for climate justice pushes me to continue. Whenever I feel discouraged and burnt out, I take a rest and observe things. This gives me more energy to continue.
One thing I would like to tell someone who is having trouble while lobbying the Mock COP26 treaty is to try something different. Focus on being creative or more diplomatic and enjoy the process no matter how difficult it is. At the end of the day, we are all always learning. Young people’s voices should be heard and respected. We should unite and strengthen our voices so that children and young people are given their rights.