I’m sure the United Nations conference hall next door looks a little more sober. This space was designed to make all people of all ages feel at home.
This is the Espaces Générations, the complex of meeting and exhibition spaces open to the general public, alongside the climate change summit, COP21. Today the general public were in short supply but the halls were lively with the purposeful representatives of 360 French and international groups, described in translation as ‘civil society’.
There are 120 exhibition stands, a programme of over 300 lectures and debates, plus screenings of 60 different films over ten days.
There are wildlife and habitat campaign groups, indigenous peoples’ networks and local authorities, research institutes and utility companies.
There are youth volunteer groups, community gardeners and agroecologists plus bike power for charging phones and running a sound system.
There’s a wealth of information being exchanged; facts and figures, plans and possibilities.
There are reporters busy with interviews and overviews,
places to rest when you need to catch up with yourself,
and good, tap water when you’re thirsty.
Most of all there’s a sense of purpose. These people aren’t waiting until the negotiators next door reach agreement before they start to take action. This is a glimpse of civil society on the move; diverse, imaginative, committed and determined people with their hopes pinned on a sustainable future.