(This is about my experience of attending a hi-profile ( for me because of the presence of important ppl) consultation meeting on climate change and agro-biodiversity linkages sometime back . Part of it was written on the spot and I added the rest later. )
The room is filled with men. Men in brown, black, grey and other dull colored jackets and sweaters. In fact, I am the only one in ‘colors’, a red jacket which sets itself apart from the rest. This should please my fashion gurus whose very first advice to me after completing my thesis presentation was ‘Try colors!’ ! Apart from the ‘eye-catching’ / ‘flashy’ red because of the lack of ‘colors’ in this room, I am the only woman participant in this meeting too. There is another girl clad in brown jacket with yellow stripes on the sides but she is the organizer. And as I write this she is pushing the curtains to the sides for more light to enter into the room. She should be same age as me and I can again say that I am the youngest participant of the meeting too. No, nothing to be proud of. It’s just a fact here. You don’t find ‘young’ people in meetings like these. And even I am not here as a ‘youth’ participant here. I am just here as a representative of an organization dealing with ‘policy issues’. I am only in place of someone else who should have been here. Hmm…that reminds me, they should have invited some youth organization representative here too, though I don’t know of any ‘youth org’ per se working in issues related to agricultural biodiversity and climate change linkages. Climate change has become another ‘youth’ area of work in recent times but I am not sure if anyone has worked in its agricultural biodiversity linkage. Mentioning a para or two on it in a write-up about climate change in general is something I don’t count as work. But the organization which has organised this meeting is full of young people (yah below 29 yrs as the youth organizations here practice) in this issue so ‘youth participation’ is a non-issue.
I am sitting between two men here and the older guy just introduced himself to me. I introduced myself to him and he said “Tapainko naam kasto mitho raicha. Birsana nasakine!” ( You have a sweet name. The kind you don’t forget. ) Now, buckle up your seat belts to know who this person is. He is the Prime Minister’s advisor on environmental issues! Can you believe that? Well, at least I can’t. So, I am feeling really proud of my name and my presence here 😉 . And though I didn’t say the same about his name I know I’ll never forget it either. Actually he stands out from all the people in this room, his business suit and the Nepali cap ( Prachanda Style) was something I noticed when we were having breakfast itself. And this is the closest I have ever been to the Prime Minister of Nepal! 😀
The other guy works for an INGO and just when the program was about to begin he told me ” Ma ta pachadi janchu, yo thule bade harujasta basne thaun ho”. (I am going to sit at the back. This seems to the place where big people sit.) Well, I am not going anywhere. I don’t care if this is ‘big shot’ seat (though its not written anywhere) and I am for the time-being the ‘only’ woman participant here and why should I dissociate myself with ‘greatness’ beside me?? So, I stay here stuck to this seat.
The program has begun and the first presentation has come to an end. Now, I see two women partipants who arrived only moments ago here. And one of them just asked a question on why the presentation lacked any ‘adaptation’ issues in addition to ‘mitigation’. The PM’s advisor stated that the presentator had already done so before she arrived (in the discussion session). I won’t pride in such remarks, though coming from one among the only three woman participants among a crowd of 30-40 people. I mean you come late and then comment on the presentation looking at the last slide only? More of such advisor’s kind are required in these ‘consultation’ meetings and I mean it. Someone has to put people back in place. And as he is the government person, everyone seems to be directing their remarks towards him. He did a wonderful job of clarifying the situation too. To me, it seems like the PM really has an excellent group of experts advising him! Then that leaves me wondering what is the problem with our ‘government’ then? Everyone seems to be hypothetically stating that Nepal lacks ‘capable’ people. Ha! Pessimists. We have excellent people; it’s just that they don’t make news!!
Due to the time limit everyone was asked to write their suggestions. And while doing so, or during the entire meeting itself I was thanking my ‘development studies’ background for everything. Whatever shortcomings the course had, one thing it has given me is the ability to comprehend any new issue and see quickly establish linkages with other aspects of development. The benefit is, I could be bored but I am never lost. Of course, I am supposed to know more of agro-biodiversity because of my line of work but many of the things in the meeting were new to me too. Still, I wasn’t lost. I could have inquired something about the linkages of the Action Plan with the ABS system in IT given the changed climatic conditions (it was a late thought). No worries though, there is always a next time to learn and improve by inquiry!