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Cancún: Why are we not listening to older people?

04 Dec 2010

COP16 United Nations climate change conferenceI am feeling really frustrated today. I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel for ordinary people in these discussions!

So many things are being talked about - sustainable agriculture, financial mechanisms,  emission reductions - but rarely do we hear the voices and thoughts of the people and even less about older people.

Witnesses of change 

For me this is a big problem because older people are the witnesses of change. But nobody is bothering to listen to them. Technology is still being seen as the answer to everything.

In a court of law it's important to have all witnesses present. In this case older people are the witnesses but are denied the possibility of supporting and participating in change, even though this change will benefit their grandchildren and families.

Traditional knowledge

Adaptation mechanisms should be based on local and traditional knowledge. Who has this? Our parents, our grandparents, those who have lived though the passing of time and adapted to changes in our environment.

Food scarcity and land depletion mean that young people migrate to the cities to search for a better life. But our older people can't and don't want to concieve of a life which is separate from the land they know so well, away from their memories.

I hear so many things being talked about - there are events, even theatre, but I can't see who is thinking about the real people who suffer and who have seen climate change happening in front of their eyes. 

Find out more about HelpAge's work on climate change

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Author profile

Jorge Espinoza
Country: Bolivia
Job title: Disaster Risk Reduction Manager

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These blogs are personal reflections and do not necessarily reflect the views of HelpAge International.