IFMSA@COP17: Green initiatives for sustainable conferences?

Sunday 4th was an awesome sunny day here in Durban, so few of us decided it was the best moment to support this green initiative by biking from the Conference place to the hotel where the side event was taking place. It’s such a wonderful idea to have free bikes for delegates! We had the great opportunity to see the reality in Durban, to feel the sun, to do some exercise! It brought me back to Copenhague (AM11) for 30 minutes.

It could also be a nice and funny way to reduce our carbon footprint… but once we arrived to the side event and discovered there were no padlock or place to leave the bikes didn’t know what to do… and the solution we found wasn’t the greenest in the world! You can call the organization and they will send a van wherever in Durban you are to pick the bikes up and have them back in the bikes station for free.

That means that you are still needing a car to get to your destination, as you cannot lock all the bikes they have (apparently few of them do have a padlock), so your carbon emission is exactly the same as if you were by taxi (but much cheaper for delegates, of course).

On the other hand, there are many places in the world where bikes are not used as a transport, and promoting it here, even though in this unefficient way, could be a way to advocate for green transport. Maybe a percentage of delegates from countries where biking in the city is not common will buy a bike when they get back home to relive the funny time they had in Durban…

Leaving a bike alone without a padlock (or two) as we did in Denmark during the GA is not the best option here in South Africa. So maybe the organizers found more effective that carbon emissions were the same whether you bike or not, than to loose all the bikes they had for the event. Maybe they considered this carbon emissions are acceptable if their campaign is successfull and delegates begin cycling when go back home.

Maria Aroca on beahalf of IFMSA team to COP17

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