Refugees and disaster relief


I attended a really interesting workshop on climate disasters, refugees and the role of NGOs and youth. It was run by individuals from the Taiwanese Youth Climate Coalition. I think they had amazing information to share with the workshop participants. They were knowledgable on natural disaster impacts in their area and how NGOs and youth can play a role in the post disaster process. There were some language barriers that made discussions hard to follow at times. This is to be expected when groups of people from multiple nationalities get together.  It did feel a bit like it had been designed to promote the problems in their country and the role that developed countries have in helping with this, rather than a general overview of the umbrella concepts. But in teaching what they know they were able to give a more detailed account of social and cultural impacts of disasters in their area.

Christchurch comparisons of disaster aftermath were the only thing that the kiwis seemed to be able to contribute to the discussions. Although they were completely valid opinions, they were not really what the organisers of the workshop seemed to be after. Especially as the Christchurch earthquake was not climate change related. The Swedish high school students in my group (of which there were many) were talking about how the roof tiles flying off in high winds was usually as severe as it got in terms of natural disasters impacts in their area. This made it harder for them to relate to the issues of the workshop in the way it was set out.

There seemed to be an assumption that the participants would know a lot about the disasters, rather than being there to learn about them. There was also a ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mentality in terms of the way the organisers talked to the workshop participants- there was an assumption that all the participants were from developed countries which wasn't an idea that was explicitly explored. I think that this type of assumption can be as dangerous as assuming that all individuals from the ‘Global South’ need help and outside assistance on climate change issues.

The group that ran the workshop were intelligent and inspiring young individuals and you can check out their organisations webpage (TWYCC) using the link below. 


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Posted on November 7, 2013 and filed under UN Climate Talks 2013.