A recent LUMS Law graduate of 2017, Omer Akif, who is passionate about pursuing international environmental law decided to initiate a project to raise awareness about the dynamics of international climate change negotiations among the youth of Pakistan.
The Pakistan chapter of UN recognized worldwide youth mobilization project “COP In My City”. This project was taken by Omer and his team to create conference for Pakistan called ‘COP In My City: Islamabad’.
COP stands for Conference of the Parties, which is the name of UN’s annual climate change conference organized under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. COP in My City Islamabad 2017 which took place on 14th and 15th October in COMSATS Islamabad, made Pakistan the 74th country in the world to hold a simulation of UN Climate Change negotiations under the COP in My City platform.
COP in My City Islamabad is the first ever UN Climate Change negotiations simulation to be held in Pakistan.
COP in My City Islamabad 2017 involved 50 students from 22 universities and 11 cities, who participated in two days of intense negotiations by engaging in role-play of different countries, economic blocs, activists groups, lobbies and press corps. The institutions represented included University of Punjab, University of Peshawar, IBA Karachi, Habib University, COMSATS, NUST Islamabad, Lahore School of Economics and many others.
There were a number of highly qualified adjudicators to assess the individual and group performance of participants, which included Dr. Qamar Zaman, author of Pakistan Climate Change Policy, Dr. Toqeer Ahmed Centre for Climate Change and Research COMSATS IIT, Dr. Mahmood Khwaja of SDPI, Ms. Kahsmala Kakakhel, climate expert, and Mr. Farrukh Zaman of CSCCC (Civil Society Coalition for Climate Change). All participants and best delegation were awarded certificates.
The objective of this exercise was simple, to reach a unanimous agreement on restricting global greenhouse emissions in a manner that is fair to the most vulnerable parties. Similar to actual UN Climate Change negotiations, participants came from diverse backgrounds, ranging from environmental science to economics, maths, law, business administration, communication design, architecture and engineering.
The simulation exercises, namely “World Climate” and “World Energy” were designed by MIT Sloan Sustainability Initiative through their project “Climate Interactive”.
The participants of COP in My City Islamabad found the simulations to be extremely engaging, eye-opening and an opportunity for great learning. During the final debrief, all participants showed great interest in organizing a COP in My City event in their own communities and institutes. Overall, the event was a great success which not only equipped dozens of students with the basics of climate change and essential knowledge of how UN’s climate change negotiations work but also made them realize how important it is for all nations to cooperate with another in order to reach an agreement that is favorable for the planet as a whole.
Hebab Essa and Abdullah Quresh from IBA Karachi, were declared the best negotiators after displaying brilliant diplomacy skills and sound knowledge of the core issues within the debate. These two bright students as a result were awarded an opportunity to attend COP 23 (UN’s annual climate change conference) in Bonn, Germany next month as part of Pakistan’s official delegation.
After witnessing the incredible success of the event, the founder and lead facilitator of the simulation, Omer is quite optimistic about the increasing role of Pakistani youth in engaging with Climate Change projects, especially with the organizing of more COP in My City events throughout Pakistan.