“You are the future” – Interview with Debra Roberts

Yesterday, Marina and I walked around Paris in search of different ArtCOP exhibitions. Going past Hotel de Ville, we saw a group of people coming out and wanting to know who they were and if they were possibly involved in the COP. So we spontaneously approached one of them and were lucky enough to be able to interview Debra Robert. Debra Roberts works for local governments in the city of Durban in South Africa and follows the adaptation stream and loss and damage in the COP21 negotiations in Paris.

Here is the interview transcript. (I for Interviewer and DR for Debra Roberts)


I: What is the main topic you’re engaging in?

DR: I follow the adaptation stream and loss and damage for the South African delegation.

I: From the beginning?

DR: I follow the adaptation stream and loss and damage for the South African delegation.

I: From the beginning?

DR: Yes, from the beginning. Some of my colleagues have been here a week before where they prepare for meetings.

I: And what were you just doing in the Hotel de Ville?

DR: This is a meeting of the iclei committee. So iclei is the international focal point for local governments in the negotiations. So this is the representors of local governments, basically talking about what they’re going to do going forward playing the role of local governments in implementing the climate change agenda.

I: What are your main hopes for this?

DR: An agreement of any form would be great, but ideally an ambitious one that recognises the importance of local action. Because I think local actors are really the key to the solution.

I: Do you see that hope as realistic?

DR: Where we are now, potentially not, but a lot depends on what we do with the second week and how the ministers manage the negotiations so the potential is still there. There’s a lot of potential, you’ve got to realise it.

I: What do you think is the impact of what is happening in Paris around the Cop21 and the engagement of civil society? Does this take somehow part in the negotiations?

DR: It tends to be outside because in negotiations we close doors and that happens on a political basis. I must admit for the first time at this COP, I feel that the important people are not in the room anymore because I think the world has changed and civil society and local governments are really where the power lies now. And it feels strange not to have them in the room.

After this quick interview, Mrs. Roberts left us for further negotiations, saying: “You are the future”. Thank you very much for your inspiring answers Mrs. Roberts, we hope you can achieve what you came to here for.

Debra Robert (QOTE SOURCE!) Debra Roberts (original picture)

Text by Johanna Stoye


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