by J. Taj Schottland
As I sit in our initial communications work group meeting I can’t help but feel some frustration. The working group is charged with facilitating communications between the media and the international youth non-governmental delegation (YOUNGO). We are essentially the voice of the YOUNGO delegation. Obviously we have an extremely important role to play during these negotiations. We create the overall message that YOUNGOs will spread to governments, industries, civil society, and other constituents.
We have an awesome task ahead of us, both in importance and sheer difficulty. At the risk of sounding elitist however, my frustration stems from the high percentage of individuals present who mean well but aren’t particularly knowledgeable about the relevant topics. Furthermore, the vast majority of people in the group have no practical experience in creating an effective messaging campaign. What to do? Most people would argue that the power of the youth movement stems from its grassroots base and the moral leverage that we bring to the table. We youth are inheriting the triumphs and mistakes of the current climate negotiations. We have an especially high stake in COP 15.
Looking around the room at the high diversity and enthusiasm of our participants I can’t help but feel hope for our future. These people make the base of our movement and the existence of our movement possible. But I also look around the room and see people who are not necessarily the best people to create a message that will permeate through the media in an effective manner to capture attention. Really though, who am I to judge their ability?
I can’t decide. Should we create a communications work group made up of only youth with experience, high levels of education, and strong drive to lead? This workgroup would be both efficient and effective. Or, do we utilize the diversity of our work group? By valuing diversity and openness above creating a streamlined group of individuals with experience, what do we lose? Anything? I am always wary of elitist tendencies, however I can’t help but acknowledge that our communications workgroup will struggle longer and harder by attempting to be inclusive of everyone. Is that struggle worth it? Probably.