Making Copenhagen Personal

Making Copenhagen Personal

No, this isn’t the new ad slogan for the Danish board of tourism (fortunately for them).  Copenhagen is a beautiful city, and they have certainly done a better job than that in marketing themselves to the world.  I’m talking about the need to make a personal, human connection between the bureaucratic and technocratic workings of next month’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, and the planet’s 6.8 billion people.
 
The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen (or COP15, as this will be the 15th Conference of the Parties), will host political leaders and top government officials from 192 countries who are coming together to develop a new framework to combat climate change.  The new agreement will replace the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.
 
Most of what has been written thus far about the conference has focused on scientific, political and economic considerations – namely, what must the world do to slow and reverse the effects of climate change, what kind of an agreement can be reached, and what impact will it have on the global economy?  Less has been said about the efforts of individuals and small groups who have been working to humanize and personalize the issue.
 
I’m encouraged by the sheer number and wide variety of efforts to engage and inspire average citizens – in America and all over the world – to make their voices heard leading up to the conference.  Youth groups, women’s groups, civic organizations, labor representatives, environmental groups, clubs and student-led efforts from colleges and universities, and all manner of NGOs and civil society organizations are launching online petitions, Facebook groups, virtual bulletin boards, YouTube videos, letter writing campaigns, rallies, student delegations, and flash mobs.
 
And this week, I am delighted that my own company, Hill & Knowlton, and our parent firm WPP, have announced some additional small parts in support of this effort.
 
Hill & Knowlton was selected by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to serve as the official media sponsor for COP15.  As our announcement on this states, Hill & Knowlton will support an information campaign to encourage climate conscious behavior by delegates and others to help reduce GHG emissions during COP15.  The campaign will also ensure that knowledge from the conference regarding climate conscious behavior will be communicated more broadly, locally and internationally.
 
WPP has launched the UN ‘Hopenhagen’ campaign, which aims to generate worldwide public support for an agreement in Copenhagen.  As the Hopenhagen site aptly states:
 
Hopenhagen is a movement, a moment and a chance at a new beginning.  The hope that in Copenhagen this December – during the United Nations Climate Change Conference – we can build a better future for our planet and a more sustainable way of life.  It is the hope that we can create a global community that will lead our leaders into making the right decisions.  The promise that by solving our environmental crisis, we can solve our economic crisis at the same time.  Hopenhagen is change – and that change will be powered by all of us.
 
Most scientists agree… Copenhagen represents our last, best chance for world leaders to address global warming in a comprehensive way before its effects become irreversible.  If our leaders and representatives at COP15 are to make the difficult decisions required to strike a meaningful agreement, it may just take our collective 6.8 billion voices to give them the political will to get it done.

Chad Tragakis, Senior Vice President, Hill & Knowlton, Washington D.C, and writer for the Hill & Knowlton Blog, ResponsAbility.

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