At just 20 years old, Bachelor Of Arts/Bachelor of Laws student Darcy Gilligan is already taking his place as part of a new generation of climate change decision-makers. This month, he attended the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Warsaw, which has the ultimate aim of preventing ‘dangerous’ human interference with the climate system.
Listening and learning
Darcy was selected by Global Voices, an organisation that funds and prepares Australia’s future leaders to attend major international events. In the lead-up to the conference, Darcy had the chance to talk one-on-one with some of the people who’ve shaped Australia’s foreign policy.
Facinating discussion with former foreign minister prof Gareth Evans. Very insightful @globalvoicesau— Darcy Jon Gilligan (@Gilligan_D) August 22, 2013
'I think the most poignant discussion we had was on his work as chair of the international crisis group,' Darcy says of his meeting with Professor Evans. 'He spoke about the need to keep a cool head and calm in negotiations, to not let frustration or impatience blind you to the ultimate goal of the negotiations, particularly in conflict resolution or prevention where every second literally meant lives lost.'
Understanding the true cost
The conference gave Darcy the chance to meet some of the central players in climate change policy today. ‘50 shades of excited about meeting UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres,’ he tweeted at the halfway point of the conference. But in amongst the buzz of speeches and strategy meetings, there were also some sobering reality checks.
'The process of international negotiations is a slow and difficult process, a process that takes months, if not, years to reach a conclusion and not always a satisfactory one,' Darcy explains. 'Some developing nations can't afford to send a delegate for the whole conference, or are unable to send a large enough delegation party to have a good and solid understanding of all the issues raise in the conference, leaving them at a massive disadvantage.'
Once back in Australia, Darcy is keen to make the most of his experience. ‘I think it's just a matter of time before climate change returns as a prominent issue in Australian politics,' he says. 'Until then I plan on working towards domestic policy growth, and of course, I plan to relay my experiences to the wider community and my fellow students.’
Connect with Darcy on Twitter: @Gilligan_D