Bringing the Climate Change Debate to Universities

In Pakistan, students simulate the “Conference of Parties”
Conference of Parties simulation in Islamabad

Climate change impacts everyone. But it is the poorest of society who face the worst brunt of the destructive power. To combat the global threat the Ministry of Climate Change in Pakistan and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) jointly organized a two days event titled “COP in my City” in Islamabad. This is the first ever simulation of the CoP in Pakistan. The acronym CoP stands for “Conference of Parties” and is an annual conference under the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change.

The Islamabad workshop aimed to train future experts on climate change issues on how they can play a role in the various international fora dealing with climate change issues. The exercises helped to equip the participants with diplomatic skills to address Pakistan’s positions regarding climate change and, above that, develop a better understanding of diplomatic processes in the wide web of United Nations institutions.

50 students from some twenty universities joined the activity. The participants from NUST Islamabad, the Lahore School of Economics, Habib University Karachi, IBA Karachi, University of Peshawar took up roles as negotiators of various signatory countries in the UN Climate Change Negotiations. As in real life, the groups formed blocs and coalitions, they represented activists’ groups, business lobbies and the media. The participants came from different academic backgrounds ranging from environmental science to economics, law, business and media studies.

“It’s been a great experience to learn about climate change in this hands-on manner”, said Abdullah Qureshi, the winner of the award of the best negotiator. Heba Essa and Abdullah Qureshi from IBA Karachi won distinctions for their exceptional diplomatic skills and the sound knowledge of the core issues.

Importantly, the two are members of Pakistan’s official delegation at COP 23 in Bonn, Germany. “This is a great opportunity for young people to discuss climate change and spread awareness”, said Ms Essa.

Prominent referees assessed the performance of the young diplomatic talents: The jury comprised Dr. Qamar Zaman, author of “Pakistan Climate Change Policy”, Dr. Toqeer Ahmed and climate change expert Kahsmala Kakakhel.