I was expecting to only be observing at the United Nations Environmental Assembly 2 (UNEA2), or token consultation. I was very wrong.
What it came down to was what effort I wanted to put in.
On that first day sitting in the main meeting hall, I was nervous to just take a seat. We were encouraged to sit close to the main speakers on the podium. Feeling out of place, I slunk closer with the group and found a space only 3 rows out and only some 7 meters away from the stage.
In the afternoon’s session I was compelled to comment on one discussion. I was scared but tried not to think about where I was, and who I was addressing. I put up my hand to comment and waited in line for my turn. When indicated I pushed the button on the speaker in front of me, praying that was what you were meant to do and it would suddenly work.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see my form appear on the big screen. ‘Focus’, I told myself, ‘this is it’.
I’m later told my point was made well, was necessary and a good addition to the discussion. I made a note to make sure I spoke up if I felt I need to again.
I was the first of the delegation to speak out and others felt able to then follow my lead. In the end I spoke in some form on all but one day of the 9 days that was made up of the Science and Policy Forum, the stakeholders meetings and UNEA2.
My message I have been bringing to health professionals and academics all over New Zealand, that agriculture must be addressed and can be done in a positive way in conjunction with farmers, was heard directly in a private meeting with the incoming president of the UN Environmental Programme, by the top officials of the EU and in front of the general assembly of all of the 170 country’s representatives that attended.
I have had so many amazing connections made from this with many invaluable links forged, platforms given and learning made. I thoroughly recommend I to anyone given the chance.
To watch me take the opportunity at an open mic night at the UNEA2, on the second day, take a look here.