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UNDP Climate Change Expo 2013

"They came, shopped...and left with innovative solutions"

Report on the UNDP - Climate Change Expo at Pioneer Mall, Maseru 22th October 2013

By Carlo Schick

Palesa Moiketsi and Ntakoana Mothae  at the TED exhibition stand
Palesa Moiketsi and Ntakoana Mothae at the TED exhibition stand

My first efforts in representing TED's work
My first efforts in representing TED's work My first efforts in representing TED's work

Imagine you have to choose the perfect location for an exhibition that aims to raise public awareness of the impacts, climate change is causing in Lesotho, as well as presenting the ambitious approaches and organisations that try to diminish exactly those impacts. Could you find a more suitable place than the hallways of a shopping mall with its large amount of stores and customers from Maseru and the surrounding catchment area? This is probably why the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in cooperation with the Government of Lesotho, located the "Climate Change Expo 2013" at one of the most frequently visited places in Maseru. At first sight, this choice is perfectly clear. But we will come back to this point later. Now let us talk about TED's involvement. As a NGO which is highly specialised in projects tackling climate change impacts and providing adaptive solutions to climate change, TED presented itself besides roughly 15 other participants at one of the most visited stands of the exposition.

Only a half day in advance, the UNDP informed our office that TED should be present with a stand from 9 to 16 o'clock at the "Climate Change Expo 2013" at the nearby Pioneer Mall. As we are all specialists in flexibility and creativity, we organised the requested presentational material while our roll-up for such events had been taken to the annual BORDA Partner Meeting in Dar as Salaam. In addition to the lack of time for the preparation, it was my first event as a member of the TED team, so I was a bit concerned about my abilities of explaining the portfolio of TED and detailed information about the biogas systems to interested people.

All the former doubts about my presentational skills vanished, when a arrived at the office the next morning. There was just no time for worrying. After we had packed, then unpacked the car and build up our stand in just 45 minutes, we recognised that we were the first team at the exhibition area. After taking a short breather, we answered the questions of more than 130 interested parties who found their way to TED between 9 and 16 o'clock. The peak of visitors gathered around us on lunch time. Our mouths kept explaining "non-stop" while our bellies slowly started to grumble.

TED and climate change, so where is the actual connection? Let us have a short overview about the products and programmes of TED that are linked with climate change issues:

All those aspects were discussed in numerous chats around our stand. And when there was no throng around ourselves, I took the opportunity to go around and inform myself about the work of the other participants of the expo. Besides the several stands that presented regional products from native plants, informed about forest fire fighting and sustainable agriculture I was fascinated of the work presented by our stand neighbour. They recycled scrap paper and produced some sort of clinker for constructional work.

But besides all those interesting aspects of the "Climate Change Expo", I kept wondering about two things. Because of the fact that the event was not announced and advertised in advance, the exposition and the present organisations could only serve those people with information who coincidently came by. To my mind, the amount of visitors would have been much bigger, if the UNDP had informed potential visitors up front. And in addition to this, those people who have to cope with climate change impacts the most, are living and working in rural and remote areas throughout Lesotho. The majority of those people also could not come to the Pioneer Mall. Of course TED and some of the other programmes are especially working in rural areas to foster a sustainable and environment friendly way of life, which also improves the livelihood of all Basotho as well as the adaption to climate change. This "field work" is very important and I think it would be a great idea to promote a small climate change exposition that sets up a camp on various places around Lesotho, needless to say that this would only be possible if there were enough financial resources available for such an initiative.

Nevertheless, I can say that the "Climate Change Expo" was a very informative event, not only for the visitors at the Pioneer Mall, but also for myself. I discovered the work of NGO's, local groups and enterprises as well as governmental institutions regarding awareness raising on the impacts of climate change and the adaption strategies, which enable the Basotho to cope with those impacts. Besides my personal learning progress, I got the feeling that many of the people passing by showed interest in the work of TED. So in the afternoon they left the Pioneer Mall not only with groceries or goods in their bags, but rather enhanced their knowledge about climate change and what can be done against it.

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