Empowering thousands of people to change together

04-11-2009 22:58
At least 10,000 people from all over the world are expected to be part of the alternative summit Climate Forum 09 in Copenhagen next month. But what is the point of getting so many people together and what can be achieved? Kristine Holten-Andersen, one of the many driving forces behind the project, believes the summit is about empowerment and creating the feeling of acting together.

The conference blog has obtained permission to quote from Kristine Holten-Andersen’s manuscript for her presentation at the opening session of the conference.

“We have already succeeded in generating more or less global awareness on the fact that we have to adjust our consumption of resources to a sustainable level, but it is still immensely difficult to act upon this awareness as an individual.

It is difficult to make the right choises, when you are driven by rational guilt and when you are supposed to take global responsibility for everything by changing your values – it is much easier when we act together.
When we act through networks - in common - our drivers becomes social and emotional, as well as rational.

Thus in the civil-society movement on climate changes, we value the community very highly. We work hard to be as inclusive as possible, and our work is based on a horizontal grassroot-like structure. We value the process just as highly as the result.

The horizontal structure means that when I speak with you to day - though being one of the designated spokespersons for the Climate Forum – I do not speak on behalf of Climate Forum09. I speak not on instructions from but out of loyalty to the civil community that I come from and in which my views have been shaped. Everyone involved in the Climate Forum are mere participants – or you can say, everybody is as much a delegate as I am.

Climate Forum works horizontally, Climate Forum works dialogically, and Climate Forum
works in action - it is more doing and less talking. And thus Climate Forum and the movement that follows only works when we are able to engage and empower one another, which is exactly what we need to do on a larger scale, if we are to start behaving ecologically responsible in our everyday choices and actions.

Instead of just focusing on “the right behaviour” when we are to encourage
people to make changes, our work in Climate Forum gives a variety of motivations. Instead of acting because “We Should” – which is a guilty conscience motive - we in act because “We can”. This is an emancipatory motive – and also used as motto in the election campaign of a certain president.

The ClimaForum09 can help creating proactive and positive changes by engaging people and creating hope.

But the unfortunately civil society work is never acknowledged as it should be. The
ClimateForum09, hosting a minimum of 10.000guests from all over the world - especially the global south - engaging approximately 1000 volunteers, offering 400 different workshops, exhibitions, cinema shows and other events, has a pitiful budget of 1.000.000 euros. More than half of the budget is spent on rent of the conference center.”

by Kirsten Sparre

Category: Conference news


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