Direct from Copenhagen, Denmark - 15th United Nations Climate Change Conference - (8 – 18 December '09)

Acting as the official High Tide COP15 envoy, distinguished ecological artist Aviva Rahmani will be immersing herself in the burgeoning eco-political activism in the city and sharing her experiences with us via this daily blog.

Why not get involved and join in dialogue with her? Log-on to share your views! This is the gathering storm…

Produced in association with FACT

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Page Two of the Press Release for the December 16 COP15 Press Conference that never happened and the role of art in climate adaptation

If COP15 and the UNFCCC desire just allocation of resources to deal with climate change. Why then, has art, which has so much to contribute to that goal, been absent from all discussions of adaptability?

Artists are available to help with adaptation. In additional to indigenous cultural groups, over 200 educational and cultural institutions internationally have courses or entire programs devoted to ecological art The vast pool of resources for COP15 implementation can be seen at:,,,,,

Report of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Long-term Cooperative Action under the Convention on its seventh session, held in Bangkok from 28 September to 9 October 2009, and Barcelona from 2 to 6 November 2009; chosen because it bears equally on human needs for ethics and culture.
Key words and phrases:
build capacity and facilitate adaptation, Ecological art, adaptation and mitigation, aspirational goals, technology transfer and development, Resilience, Vulnerability, “[the level of adaptation][adaptation needs]”, “[framework] [programme]”
Key document text that illlustrates why art can become a partner:
pg 54: “Adaptation is a challenge shared by all countries; .... in order to reduce vulnerability, minimize loss and damage and build the resilience of ecological and social systems and economic sectors to present and future adverse effects of climate change [and the impact of the implementation of response measures]. (reference content of non-paper no.41 (5 November 2009)”
pp 61: “identifying sources of adaptation;
Strengthening, consolidating and enhancing the sharing of information, knowledge, experience and good practices, at local, national, regional and international levels, consistent with relevant international agreements, through creating forums where different public and private stakeholders can discuss concrete challenges;”

Additional considerations:

Gender issues relate to questions of art and culture. Disproportionately, artisans in indigenous cultures are often women. Their practices often preserve the, “[land use, land-use change and forestry sector]”; (and represent how to) p. 92 “respect the knowledge and rights of indigenous peoples[, including their free, prior and informed consent,] Deforestation is often a consequence of the cultural disruption that displaces gender roles.

Art and humanities foster creativity through out all sectors of society. In transition periods, creative problem-solving is as essential to survival as financial or regulatory support.
The costs of sustaining cultural communities in relation to other ecological costs is not only minimal but has historically transferred wealth, in a variety of forms back into an economy. This will help cultures in transition maintain identity and independence, a response to the need to, “develop low-emission [high growth sustainable] development strategies.”

Films by Aviva Rahmani with discussion afterwards will be viewed at 5: PM December 16: Farumgade 4-6, 2200 Kbh N (Nørrebro) (via shareaholic)

More Video on Protests- this time INSIDE Bella Center

Communications with the Media Center in response to my query about options

Received 10:53 PM
Dear Aviva,

I am really sorry about that. You may ask Marilyn to contact me: tel.
xxxxxxxxx. I will make sure it is placed on the shelve dedicated for NGO
press advisory.

Best regards,

Jingwen Yang

Press Conference Room Officer
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - secretariat

My response back:

Dear Jingwen,

Thank you very much. I'm sure this situation is as frustrating for you as it is for us. As I wrote a list serve I am part of about today:

"As I said tonight at my film screening, 'to the world, it appears as tho a very few people, with limited information, transparency, accountability or insight, are determining the fate, literally of billions of others, not to mention other species."

I would be very surprised if Marilyn still has the 500 copies I printed and gave her. But perhaps she might advise you where they were left and some might be retrieved and placed where they could do some good. Just in case, I attach the first page.



Art in a (former) Garage

Police Guarding the Last Gate to the Bella Center- there were several

Cheerfully persistent demonstrators in front of Bella Center

Civil Defense Troops heading for Bella Center a ten minute walk down the road

Blur of police thru train window as fast as global warming

Police massing several miles from Bella Center tracking people coming from the demonstration

Thinkers at work in Workshop December 16, 2009 Copenhagen

Light through the windows where we held the "Trigger Point Theory as Aesthetic Activism" workshop

Bella Center December 15 after news that everyone might be shut out

Young People inside Bella Center December 15

Day 10 Copenhagen day 9 COP15 End of a very long day

It's been snowing all day today and finally sticking. I've been out in it most of the day off & on. The final day of the workshop I led went well. I've already written about my experience of trying and failing to have a press conference.

In the evening, I went to show my films at one of several restored gas stations around the city, retrofitted for art, in this case, curated by a man from Berlin: Dede. Comments and ideas shared afterwards were inspiring and interesting, including that tomorrow, I move to another household for my remaining time in Copenhagen. This will relieve Oleg & Susanne of the stress of sharing thier newly expanded family with any more people than is essential and may be a more comfortable set-up for me. Someplace along the line of transition, I hope to get a real newspaper and finally know what is being said, in some detail about events here.

Since it was mostly the folks from my workshop at the screening, in addition to their responses, I was able to understand more about their work and have insight into ways to develop my own future work. Fabian and I discussed a film project he's beginning about migration issues. I mentioned that of all the work with Jim, that migrations were the most pressing issue that had emerged about climate change. I said it's only a symptom of the problem of climate change, but like dying as a symptom of cancer, the symptom can be quite severe.

I like an orderly society as much as anyone but not at the cost I'm experiencing here. I spoke to eyewitnesses (people known to me), who watched Danish plain clothesmen infiltrate the protestors and become provocative until the police charged, at which time the police encircled the phony agitators to bring them back into the folds of their own, while going on to beat up the rest of the crowd.

Bill McKibben of, sent out a mailing this evening enjoining us all to stick with pressing for the numbers. But I want the world to know the price being paid here by individual people who have been physically hurt, arrested and silenced. Numbers are important but some clear & balanced reporting means we don't just hear the pollyanna side of what's going on.

As furious as I am with the UN Secretariat's decision to shut out NGOs (Avaaz and Friends of the Earth had their entire delegation, a first at a COP, thrown out) and all our information, experience & insight, today was the first time in my life that I felt resentful towards protestors. Was it really necessary to storm the Bella Center this morning announcing it would be "taken over"?? I get it: people feel shut out and want to be part of the process. Who's fault is that? The lazy reporters? The conservative publishers? The ordinary ciitizens who don't ask probing questions? The employers who don't leave workers enuf time to feed their families & get a good night's sleep, let alone read a newspaper for the scant reporting that does get thru? I also resent colleagues warmly, safely inside the Bella Center with apparently no thought for the rest of us.

I admire the NGOs & delegates who walked out to join the protestors today, knowing they wouldn't get back in. I'm furious at myself for not having the foresight to have a back-up plan with a press badge. Look in the mirror and find the enemy, inc moi-meme.

From my point of view, the work of thousands has been trashed today by the combination of the UN Secretariat and the Danish police shutting down the Bella Center to NGOs, in effect, for the remainder of the conference. Which incidentally, included anything I might have said in my press conference today, about art's role in policy & science, to help people adapt to traumatic change as climate refugees. Since I too was shut out. The snow has been as wet & cold as the Danish reception here.

Page 1 of Press Release for the Press Conference that Never Happened

For Immediate Release: December 16, 2009 Contact: Aviva Rahmani Asger Jorn Room, Bella Center, Copenhagen

Art can help build the capacity and facilitate adaptation needed at COP15;
SOS Gulf to Gulf is a virtual model for the role of art

Protestors world wide see COP15 as a conflict between money and legalisms. This press conference asserts that is why art needs to be at the table, “ [supporting] [assisting] [enabling] all developing country Parties, particularly the most vulnerable, in undertaking adaptation measures.” Art is how people express their experiences. Millions of artists have another approach to environmental issues.

Artists can help COP15 communicate between parties
The media can convey how art can enable adaptation and implement climate justice
Contemporary and indigenous art practices provide relatively low-cost, uncontentious models for adaptation and mitigation that can contribute to long term cooperation and capacity building. Art is a vehicle to express what words and numbers can’t.
When we take “aspirational goals” seriously for the Least Developed Countries (LDC), we see that the arts in each culture and between cultures are a means to express aspiration, sustain it’s people, bridge communication gaps and be a container for important historical information, including indigenous environmental knowledge. Art is the glue holding societies and cultures together, under stress, means to intimately connect people.
In the 21rst century, art can create ways for technology transfer and development to translate and protect bodies of cultural knowledge, because artists are innovative.
Ecological art is a recognized practice that embraces an ecological ethic in both its content and form/materials, embracing collaborative opportunities.

SOS Gulf to Gulf is an example of how an ecological art practice can help
SOS Gulf to Gulf developed in virtual collaboration to reduce carbon emissions
Artist Aviva Rahmani and scientist Dr. Jim White, director of the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR), University of Colorado at Boulder, initiated a cross-disciplinary virtual collaboration, addressing the international global warming crisis in gulf regions.
The story reveals parallels between Bangladesh, the Gulf of Mexico, the Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of Aden and the Persian Gulf connecting water, war, pirates, fisheries, education and migrations.
SOS Gulf to Gulf was inspired by the Trigger Point Theory of environmental restoration developed by Rahmani

Presentation Credits: dialog is between artists Aviva Rahmani and Peter Buotte, curator Tricia Watts, Ecoartspace, Marda Kirn, director EcoArts Connection, Dr. Jim White, INSTAAR, Dr. Ed Maibach, George Mason University, Dr. Eugene Turner, Louisiana State University, Dr. Michele Dionne, director of Research at the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, Wells Maine and Tuku Ahmed, a New York City taxi cab driver and immigrant from Bangladesh.

Day 10 Copenhagen Day 9 COP15

They closed the Bella Center to all NGOs today, effectively cancelling my scheduled press conference. Before I arrived, at 1:30: the police were beating demonstrators. There were lines of police vans for miles before we reached the Center. we were let out a ten minute walk away from the Bella Center.

I walked upstream against a tide of unhappy NGOs to reach the police lines, a few hundred feet from the entrance. When I told them I had a press conference they directed me to the VIP entrance for advice. I tried to contact my organizer, Marilyn Averill, who was inside and had offered me her secondary badge. At first my new blackberry locked and no one around me could unstick it. Eventually I could call. Meanwhile, I stopped a couple people with a media badge & asked them if they'd be willing to bring my press releases inside. They thought about it, then said, "not my job," and walked on. After a moment of feeling stunned by their lack of generosity, I felt like yelling, "then what do you think you job IS?" But by then, tall & long-legged, they were far beyond earshot, long gone to whatever they considered their REAL job.

I got to the VIP gate and was able to connectw ith Marilyn, who ahd to run a gauntlet to be sure she could get back inside. I gave her the press release and she said she would put them on a shelf. Who knows if anyone will see them? On the other hand I made a nice friend in the line, working on coastal island issues and whose husband works on environmental funding.

I trudged back to Oleg's getting progressively more angry & hungry, where I emailed the U press office, one reporter and a couple others to see what I could do: not much. In a couple minutes I leave to show my films. Later, I'll post photos. Meantime, I'll post the text of the press release for the press conference that never happened.