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Postcard from Doha: It's now or never

06 December 2012

Postcard from Doha: It's now or never

Photo: The sweeping landscape of Ethiopia's Bonga forest

By Michelle Winthrop

The ministers are all here, the speech-making is under way. That's my cue to get out of here. There are more people here at the UN Climate Change Conference now, and the schedule of 'side events' has become busier. So many interesting people with experiences to share, desperately trying to influence decision-makers.

Sadly, right now those decision-makers are locked in negotiations about removing brackets from text or using the word 'shall' and 'should'. One member of the UK delegation told me he had spent 28 straight hours in negotiations. Tough when English is your first language, let alone for most of the delegates here.

My last day at the Conference of the Parties included some fascinating sessions on the economics of adaptation, as well as grasslands management experience from Mongolia. As we launch a project helping pastoralists in Afar to better manage their rangelands, I emerged very excited about our chances of finding funding to protect soil carbon in Ethiopia.

There was an inspirational presentation by a 'real' pastoralist from Kenya, giving simple tips to manage your herds better to conserve the landscape and stimulate regrowth. Useful tips indeed, but not sure when I'll be able to put them to use.

It was fitting that my day ended with a celebration of women's role in combating climate change. I've come away from this conference full of energy and ideas for how our work can do even more to empower women.

That's it for me, now I'm on my way back home to Addis. It's crunch-time in Doha. Nobody of any significance will be getting any sleep tonight. Fingers crossed the COP18 can advance things. I didn't mention our reflections on Qatar, but that's a story for another day....

- Michelle is our country director in Ethiopia. She has been writing from the UN Climate Change Conference in Doha, Qatar.

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