We received the following today from Ana Zacapa, a Skoll Foundation program officer attending the Copenhagen meetings:
Yesterday was non stop. We started the day at a meeting organized by the Climate and Energy Funders Group, where we met climate change funders from the US and Europe, all of whom seemed excited about the role of social entrepreneurship in tackling climate change. We then heard from Jet Li, a famous Chinese movie star, who, after almost losing his daughter in the tsunami, decided to work on encouraging individual philanthropy in China. His energy was contagious!! We then heard from Al Gore, who summarized the key points of his earlier speech at the UN Plenary. He’s clearly very concerned about the continuing hurdles that are surfacing and is now proposing that the next climate conference (COP16), which is scheduled for Nov 2010, be moved forward to July. It is hoped that it would be at this meeting that a binding treaty could be signed.
We attended a REDD event in the afternoon, featuring many influential speakers, including the President of Guyana, the Prime Minister of Norway, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Vilsack, Richard Branson, Jane Goodall, and a number of large environmental organizations. There is a lot of optimism that a deal on forests can be reached here, even if an overall agreement is not reached. This bodes well for the work of Skoll social entrepreneurs and partners fighting deforestation in the Amazon, including Gaia Amazonas, the Amazon Conservation Team and Avina. As of earlier today, over $3 billion per year had been committed by developed nations for REDD.
Our last event of the day was a dinner hosted by the UN Foundation featuing Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and U.S. Senator John Kerry. The Secretary General stressed again the urgency of an agreement and said that the parties have to all realize that there need to be compromises. Senator Kerry focused a bit more on the prospects for U.S. climate policy, saying that he thinks that without an agreement in Copenhagen, it will be very hard for the U.S. Senate to pass a climate bill. This was discouraging, given that the belief going into Copenhagen was that, without a U.S. bill, a global agreement would be that much harder.
This morning our meetings were more uplifting. One highlight was a session with Mariano Cenamo, a Brazilian social entreprenuer and executive director of IDESAM, who is already implementing a REDD project in the Amazon, clearly demonstrating how social entrepreneurs don’t wait for bureaucrats, they just do it!