June 2015

QUNO and Living Witness hold side-event at UNFCCC climate change conference

QUNO, together with Living Witness hosted a side event at the UNFCCC Bonn Climate Change Conference, entitled "Moving beyond conflict to build shared purpose.” The workshop was moderated by Laurie Michaelis, Founder of Living Witness. QUNO’s Climate Change Representative, Lindsey Fielder Cook, welcomed participants, encouraging them to explore their own conflicts with other participants in the room in order to understand how to best work through them.

Michaelis gave a brief history of his life leading up to the founding of his organization, noting his work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s second assessment report, and his research at Oxford University's Commission on Sustainable Consumption. He highlighted cases of conflict that brought about the need for research into human behavior, and explained that this lead him to full-time work with the Quaker community in the UK, which committed to low carbon sustainable living in 2011. He listed two main causes of human conflict as: how we look at ourselves in relationships, and our willingness to change; and how we relate to others, including our ability to consider their highest aspirations. He noted three elements to move beyond conflict: understanding each other, which includes learning to listen; mutual compassion, which involves being sensitive to each others’ feelings; and being willing to empower other people, even if this goes against our own aspirations.

Introducing quiet diplomacy, which seeks to create a safe space for delegates from different backgrounds to brainstorm ideas to address climate change, Lindsey Cook highlighted her conflict-resolution background within the UN, and QUNO’s role in offering a space for humanity to work together to solve differences in approaches to address climate change through quiet diplomacy. Participants then engaged with each other in a workshop on building shared purpose.

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