08 Nov For tonight – I believe in COP23.

9pm in Bonn. Cold. It’s been a long day at our COP23 media training workshop. I’m exhausted. The kind of tiredness where you just want to sit down on the sidewalk and (cry) go to sleep. But we also havent eaten so we find a burger grill around the corner from the hotel and stumble inside, bringing with us a rush of very tired wintry chill.

I need to eat something fast and go to bed. But the menu is all in German.


We are trying to decipher it (and bleary brains aren’t helping), when the customer waiting patiently behind us – a smiling woman with blond hair – helpfully translates for us.

Thank you! 

We place our order and go to sit down. Our translator asks where we are from.

Fiji. Samoa. 

Her face lights up and she exclaims, “Ah Fiji! The conference. We are all Fiji! Bonn is Fiji now. Welcome, welcome! And Samoa too. You come from so far away. Welcome to Germany.”

She gets her takeaway order and comes over again to say goodbye. The smile is replaced with a look of earnest intent.

“Many good wishes for the conference. For your important work, to saving our planet.”

She says again one more time before going out into the night, “We are all Fiji. We are all together.”

In that moment, I feel it.

Oneness? Solidarity? Unity?

In that moment, away from the blah-blah bustle and confusion of a climate conference with 20,0000 people and just as many different agendas –

I believe it.

That yes, we are all together.

Across troubled oceans, damaged continents, and islands that are fighting -not drowning. Across culture, language and ancestry.

Through the kindness and faith of a stranger in a burger shop. For tonight.

I have hope.

For all of us. For Earth.

Lani Young is in Bonn, Germany  – one of 10 Pacific journalists attending the United Nations Climate Conference of Parties (COP23) on a COP fellowship. 

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