This weekend, I will be living in a box as a fundraiser for the victims of Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu. This 24 hour challenge got me thinking about the things I desperately need to survive. More importantly, this challenge made me reminisce the time I slept over at the UN.
First things first, why would someone even sleep over at a UN conference?
Negotiators are not the best people at time management. Throughout the year, preliminary meetings and bilateral/regional talks happen in preparation for the convention. They talk and lobby with a lot of countries but seem not do so efficiently because meetings still run over time. Is it because the climate change topic is truly a big issue to discuss? Or is it because countries just like to exhaust time so that they do not have to compromise? Whatever the answer is, UN conferences such as COP20 always go over time. Thus, it is likely that you will see diplomats and civil society alike scrambling for a seat/couch/corner/beanbag to sleep in on the last few days of negotiations.
This brings me to the gist of this piece - what do you need to bring if you're going to sleepover at the UN?
1. Jackets/Jumpers - These pieces of clothing are good for keeping you warm or to use as make shift pillows. They might be quite bulky to carry around during the day, but it's definitely worth the sacrifice.
2. Extension cords - Finding a free plug in a plenary full of people is a mission. Bring an extension cord to save you and your friends the trouble. You don't want to be the only person not tweeting when negotiators turn crazy and use silly metaphors.
3. Snacks - Although the canteen had orders to keep serving food throughout the night, there was a point where they ran out of food (or at least the ones we could afford). Bring some snacks to keep you going and to save yourself from queuing up.
4. Toothbrush and Toothpaste - You are going to be in the same venue as dignitaries and ministers. You definitely do not want to have the morning breath after an uncomfortable sleep in a solid couch.
5. Eye Mask and Ear Plugs - The conference venue in Lima was particularly bright and loud. So if you cannot sleep with lights on or with loud people around, just like me, be sure to bring these two things!