Meeting Inspiring People in COP21 – Pt. 2

Meeting Inspiring People in COP21 – Pt. 2

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Hi! I am Pavlos Georgiadis from Greece. I am an ethnobotanist, activist and start-up entrepreneur. I worked as a researched in 11 countries in Europe, Asia and America before returning to Greece in 2012, where I focus on agrifood innovation, participatory rural development and environmental politics.

What do you do for a living? 

I have created Calypso, one of Greece’s first family farming startups, after the financial crisis hit home at 2011. This is an attempt to revitalise an ancient olive grove on the north-eastern coast of Greece, through a combination of local food traditions and agroecology. I have also co-founded We Deliver Taste, a food innovation company which tries to connect good food producers with responsible consumers.

What is your role in Paris COP21? What are you looking forward in this conference?

I was at COP21 as member of the international Climate Tracker team. We have been following the climate negotiations very closely over the last few months, and we were in Paris for the final round. Our aim was to put our negotiators in the national spotlight and climate change on the front pages of the world’s media. Our team has published more than 400 articles during the two weeks of the COP, adding a small contribution to these negotiations.

What are the major climate changes induced disasters that may affect your country?

Greece has more than 6000 islands, and more than 200 of them are inhabited. All these communities are potentially on the front line of climate disasters. Being a member of the European Union, Greece belongs to the worlds’ most developed nations. However, the debt crisis has led to a 25% reduction of the country’s GDP in the last five years, leaving half of its youth unemployed. With the economy in such a grim situation, and the social welfare system totally dismantled, what worries me most is how Greece is going to catch up with its commitments towards climate action.

What are you or your organisation / government doing in your country on climate change?

Against a background of government inaction against climate change, the civil society is on the move in Greece. There is virtually no media coverage of the issue in the country. There is no public understanding of the problem and our biggest task in 2016 is to change that. Unfortunately, not many people from Greece participated in COP21, however,

the few of us that were in Paris are already discussing ways of bringing climate change to the public dialogue.

This occurs in a social setting where people are worried about plundering incomes and unemployment. The challenge is to turn this around, and offer plausible alternatives for a new economy that is climate resilient, socially inclusive and empowering to citizens. This is a process that involves multi-stakeholder consultations, campaigning and advocacy. What makes our work in Greece interesting is that, in lack of funds and political sense, we the citizens will have to do on our own.

Any tips you learn at COP that you would like to share with us? 

Amidst so much war and conflict around the world, with the youth challenged by decisions taken from the previous generation, we must bear in mind that the world has agreed to solve this problem. And it is us, the youth, that need to claim our role and responsibility in this effort.

The COP should remind us that here we have a unique opportunity to steward our planet. Do we want to be part of this process and now?

Do you have any upcoming events happening that you would like to share with us?

There are three major events in 2016, that should definitely draw the attention of active citizens around the world:

  • Habitat III – the UN Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development  – Quito, Ecuador; 17-20 October, 2016.
  • Convention on Biological Diversity COP13 – Cancun, Mexico; 4-17 December 2016
  • World Humanitarian Summit  – Istanbul, Turkey; 23-24 May, 2016

Have you attend any parallel / side events at Paris other than COP21? If yes, can you highlight the event(s)? 

My stay in Paris started with a prayer ceremony by indigenous communities at a park opposite Bataclan, on the site where victims of the Paris attacks lost their lives a few days before the COP21 begins. Being a Climate Tracker, after the COP started I had to spend most of my time at Le Bourget, where the negotiations were taking place. I have followed the discussions on climate solutions related to regenerative agriculture and agroforesty. I also listened to a very interesting lecture by Prof. Jeffrey Sachs on Deep Decarbonisation.


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Hello, I am Nesha Ichida from Indonesia. I’m an online bachelor student studying Natural Science at the Open University UK. With this I’m also doing volunteer jobs and internships to gain more field work experience before I graduate. My passion is mainly on wildlife research and conservation but focusing more on the marine site. Although 2 years ago, I’ve put an interest in sustainable living as well after seeing the effects of climate change in my country and in the Arctic.

Tell us your purpose at COP21 and what you are looking forward at COP21?

As one of the Indonesian youth delegates, to speak at the youth session at the Indonesian pavillion, build international network, and to interview several scientist and climate activist for the “Youth4Planet Program”.

I would like to know what are the major climate changes induced disasters that may affect your country?

Forest fires, coral bleaching, drought, floods, El Nino, animal extinctions, food shortages, health and economy risk.

What are you or your organisation / government doing in your country on climate change?

Personally, I am still doing my best to raise awareness on the importance of sustainable living and reducing our carbon footprint through social media as I think every bit of change from each of us counts.

Any tips you learn at COP that you would like to share with us?

It is important to keep our goal in mind and not let green washing companies influence us. We need to build international connection to combat this problem and we youths are the ones who need to get involve the most as our future are what is at stake.

Have you attend any parallel / side events at Paris other than COP21? If yes, can you highlight the event(s)?

  • Earth To Paris (Petit Palais), meeting my two conservation heroines, Dr. Jane Goodall and Dr. Sylvia Earle. And also watching all the other celebrities talk about the importance for action in climate change
  • Exxon vs People Mock trial court (somewhere in Paris), listening to all the witness from around the world whom have been affected by climate change and how the fossil fuel industry have destroyed their home was devastating but very eye opening as well.

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Dian Anggraini was selected as a member of the mentor for Indonesian Youth Delegation for COP 16 UNFCCC in Cancun Mexico, COP17 UNFCCC in Durban, South Africa, COP 18 UNFCCC in Qatar and Indonesia Delegation for COP 21 UNFCCC in Paris.

In January 2011, Ms. Dian was trained by the Honorable Al-Gore and joined The Climate Reality Project Indonesia, a non-profit organization that serves as the Indonesian component of a grassroots movement of more than 7,800 diverse and dedicated volunteers worldwide. In the last four years she has been active as a Climate Leader, speaking and presenting about the climate crisis and its solution to the general public skills.

In the same year, Dian also participated in The Asia Pacific Leadership Congress in Melbourne, Australia.  Organized by the Australian Conservation Foundation, the congress focused on leadership, communication and engagement skills to influence and mobilize communities for a healthy environment.

In 2013, Dian participated in Climate Change Educator Skill Share and internship in The Climate Reality Project Australia for 8 weeks.

“Since the training, I appeared in international forums as well as local forums to present climate issues to various fields. I obtained climate knowledge from the training, as well as other media and events that I have participated in. As a climate leader, I like to communicate and connect with my audience especially towards the youth. I like to share some of my sustainable habits I picked up along my journey to my community especially at work and school.”

Tell me Dian, what are you looking forward at COP21?

My aims at Paris COP21 are to support our Indonesia negotiators and to help running activities in Indonesia Pavilion. I believe all our activities in Indonesia Pavilion are worth spreading and I believe our Indonesia negotiators succeeded in giving good inputs for the Paris Agreement. I hope all countries are genuinely concern and ready to cooperate to reduce the impacts of climate change for a better life.

What are the major climate changes induced disasters that are affecting your country?

Haze and Dryness resulting from summer long and forest fires.

What are you or your organisation / government doing in your country on climate change?

We are working together with the government and other community to provide communications and education to the youth and to hold climate-related activities for students such as Indonesia Youth for Climate Change , FGD and seminars.

Any tips you learn at COP21 that you would like to share with us?

Always use the social media to communicate “climate change issues” and coordinate with the government, relevant organizations and communities to promote climate awareness activities.

Do you have any upcoming events happening on Post-COP that you would like to share with us?

Yes we have upcoming Post-COP21 events but we are still organizing them.


barretteHello, I am Naomi Ages from United States. I am the Climate Liability Project Lead at Greenpeace USA.  I work on establishing legal, political, financial, and social liability for climate change.  I also work on our climate justice campaign.  I am a lawyer by training and have previously worked on human rights and asylum issues. I focused on environmental law and international law in law school and planned to make it my career. At the COP21, I worked mainly on loss and damage and as a US policy advisory for the Greenpeace delegation. I also helped interpret and advise on general issues of international law and US law.

What are the major climate changes induced disasters that may affect your country?

In the US, major climate-change induced disaster are hard to attribute, scientifically. There is some evidence that the drought in California, super-storm Sandy, and the warming in Alaska are all being worsened by climate change.  In addition, low-lying cities like New York and New Orleans are threatened by rising sea levels and future storms.

What are you or your organisation / government doing in your country on climate change?

  1. The Obama administration has made climate change a “signature issue” and has instituted the Clean Power Plan to reduce emissions.
  2. Additionally, a number of sub-national actors (cities and states) have invested in renewable and pledged to reduce emissions faster than the US government has mandated)
  3. Greenpeace runs a climate and energy campaign that focuses on “keep it in the ground”, ending coal leasing and production, “green my internet”, and political lobbying where possible.

Any tips you learn at COP21 that you would like to share with us?

This was my first COP so it’s hard to say I have tips but I think not getting caught up in rumors is important. Also that trust between organizations and between delegates and observers is the key.

Have you attend any parallel / side events at Paris other than COP21? If yes, can you highlight the event(s)?

  • WECAN – “Women on the front lines of climate change” which was held at the Marriott Ambassador Hotel in Paris
  • “What Exxon Knew and what Exxon did anyway” hosted by Matt Pawa and CIEL and was held at Light Loft and Skies in Paris.

Written by Jolene

Emily’s typical daily routine in the not-so-typical COP21- Week 2

Emily’s typical daily routine in the not-so-typical COP21- Week 2

After struggling to follow the negotiations, I decided to move on to explore the outside world of Hall 6 (LOL).

My routines on the second week were more exciting. I only managed to roam through a few halls throughout my entire first week. My second week’s focus was Hall 4, a very ‘happening’ hall.

Same as first week, 9.00am was the waking time of COP21. I attended side events in Hall 4, most of them were in the “silent” mode. All participants were required to put on headphones and listened to the speaker through a “silent’ microphone. So almost no voice could be heard from the outside. You only listen the presentation from the headphones.

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When I have the time, I roamed around the NGO booths (spotted the Facebook booth) in Hall 4 and country’s pavilion in Hall 2 & 3 (COP21 Hack#5: freebies are hidden in many of the booths or pavilions!). Quite a number of the pavilions have their own list of events going on. Some of them even prepare refreshments, if you know what I meant *winks* (COP21 Hack#6). I was amazed by their grand decoration s- of course it depends on the country’s budget too. You can see the trend from these big countries’ pavilion like India (total win, their water feature grab a lot of attention), USA, Germany, China, Korea, French etc. Malaysia do not have a pavilion by the way, in case you are wondering.

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In second week, I swore to myself to get myself proper meal everyday, so I have my lunches in Hall 4’s restaurant; or at this soup stall opposite Hall 4 that I visited like 5 times – definitely one of my favourite! Throughout the afternoon sessions, apart from side events such as forums and press conferences, I attended daily NGO meetings, witnessed several actions/mobilisations; and I guess the most exciting one would be “Fossil of The Day” which happened every day at 6.00pm in Hall 4’s climate studio! It was an initiative by CAN, to give out “award” and recognition in an entertaining way to countries whom they think performed badly and worth praising in the previous day in COP21. I have also managed to witness how a live reporting looks like from the media working space in Hall 4!

Oh, and I found a heaven in COP21- the RELAXATION ROOM & MEDITATION ROOM (COP21 Hack#7)! Thank God for sweet organizer, taking into account the need of stressful participants to rejuvenate in a designated space.

I have been going in and out between blue and green zone in my second week for different purposes. Green Zone, aka the Climate Generation Area, is around 10 minutes walk (under the freezing temperature PLUS strong wind), but luckily with friendly COP21 volunteers along the way to kinda cheer me up by greeting me with smile ;D  Green Zone is opened to public, thus with tighter security check. So imagine if my daily schedule needs me to travel from blue to green then back to blue, I have to go through 3 times of security check (!!! COP21 hack #8: Plan your schedule properly to avoid unnecessary travelling and hassle).

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Finally come to the Green Zone! Climate Generation Area. Loving the youthful settings 🙂

This place is another world. Everything here was much more casual and relaxing, more youthful as well!

Loving the colours and energy here. There were mainly organisation booths here, with similar facilities as in blue zone but in a slightly smaller scale- press conference room, media space, open working space, cafeteria, and event rooms as well. I came here mostly for bilateral meetings with other countries’ youth climate coalition; then one time to perform Sumazau Dance at the Asia Indigenous People Pact booth; and another time for an interview. But sadly, it was all for work. I didn’t actually have time to look around green zone properly 🙁

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Cycle to generate electricity and the stage concert will produce sound! Green Zone rocks woohoo

In a nutshell, I think I have fully utilized my 2 weeks in COP21 to explore and experience the main places and facilities here. I would have to admit this saying that COP is a circus. Indeed! If you were to attend the next COP, hope this daily routine sharing provides you a better picture on what’s happening in COP, and act as a good start pointer to plan on your journey 🙂

Written by:Emily
Edited by:Wanji

Emily’s typical daily routine in the not-so-typical COP21- Week 1

Emily’s typical daily routine in the not-so-typical COP21- Week 1

Many of my friends and family members are really curious on what exactly I am busying about in COP21. Why am I always on-the-run? Why did I sometimes skip my meals? What exactly is happening within COP21? All the 5W1H questions goes on and on and on. I bet many of you out there are curious about what I did too, so I thought of sharing it in a daily routine form. Enjoy!

After overcoming the jet-lag in a few days, I finally managed to feel alive. Normally, all negotiations meetings and side events in both Blue and Green Zone stared at 9am, and it took 45 minutes to reach Le Bourget on time, including the traffic; that explains why my breakfast is always on-the-run (especially in cases when overslept). Speed walking while transferring through the busy metro is a norm in Paris every morning. You will hear a lot of “pardon” (sorry in French) or “excuse moi” (excuse me) in metro. And there I went, taking the final RER-B train from Gare Du Nord station to Le Bourget station.

Accredited personnels to COP21 were all provided a free access transport card within COP21 period for all public transportation. That sped up our travelling a lot. A shuttle bus from the Le Bourget metro station to the COP21 venue was available and the average shuttle bus travelling period was about 15 minutes but If you were here during peak hour, good luck and have fun 😛

The most tiring part was when everyone squeezed into the bus and the bus tightly packed with human flesh of all sizes and flavors was stuck in a severe traffic congestion. ughhhhhhhhhhh! The marination of homo sapiens at its finest. (COP21 Hack#1: use the shuttle bus during non-peak hour)

Last stop before OFFICIALLY entering COP21 was the infamous security check. SECURITY SCAN is a pain in the a** seriously. It was all done by their very own UN securities. We were asked to separate our electronic devices (that’s okay); winter coats (that’s okay too) but the most, MOST ANNOYING PART was the liquid part. They wanna checked through all the liquid that was to be brought in, yes even H2O WATER. You would be asked to drink a sip of your water to show that it is really water.

Oh well, this tighten security was expected after the attack, so deal with it. Then, you can finally proceed to the legendary COP21 venue!! Welcome! Bievenue! (You gotta scan your name tag’s barcode for facial verification before entering, that’s the final step actually)

Oh by the way, Carrefour is kind enough to distribute free apples to all COP21 visitors/participants at the entrance every morning (COP21 Hack#2: arrive early to grab the free apples).

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Daily free apples brought to you by the kind Carrefour!

The breeze welcomes you after the final barcode scan; coming up with Climate Action Network (CAN) volunteers distributing ECO newsletter to you (COP21 Hack#3: you can get soft copy of the newsletter too, save paper and save space in your baggage); then tadaaa- that’s where the different routine came in.

In my first week, I mostly followed the nerd tract- negotiations. So my immediate destination was always Hall 6 (where all the meeting rooms were). I would pre-checked the meetings/plenaries I plan to attend, which I could do it on the big screen CCTV (They call it the climate change TV?, not sure though) for latest schedule. Then I would spent almost my whole day just in Hall 6, except meal time. Not even kidding. Meetings were normally back-to-back, each took approximately 2 hours. Walking from Hall 6 to the restaurants/cafeteria took me 10 minutes to and fro; so sometimes I just ‘tapao’. Occasionally, meetings ended way into the night so my first week here was literally like, camping in Hall 6. Oh wait, I did went to another hall where the plenary was. The setting of the plenary hall was, oh so grand! With very efficient translators who translated INSTANTLY in all UN languages. Fun fact: I actually tried to switch to Chinese translation channel (it’s adjustable if you are wearing headphones) and found out the translators were translating in emotionless way compare to the English translators.

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This is how a negotiation meeting room looks like. Negotiators are discussing with each other before the meeting starts.

Overall, my daily routine in Week 1 was quite hectic because I was just drowning myself into the negotiations- flying here and there trying not to miss any of the meetings worth attending. Finally I couldn’t tahan any more, I fell sick :/ (COP21 hack # 4: DRINK PLENTY OF WATER AND GET ENOUGH REST) I guess I should slow down a bit next week.

Written by: Emily
Edited by: Wanji

Indigenous People in Climate Change- when tradition meets modern life

Indigenous People in Climate Change- when tradition meets modern life

A visit to the Asia Indigenous People Pact (AIPP) booth in Green Zone led me to a series of immense thoughts on indigenous people in climate change. We were there to have a short Sumazau Dance practice with Winnie, a representative from JOAS. The dance performance was for Asia Day on the next day. JOAS stands for Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia, translated in English as The Indigenous People Network of Malaysia.

Compare to the indigenous people (IP) that I interacted with previously in Krau, Pahang; Winnie is different, as she has much more exposure to the modern world. She was such a pleasant lady, teaching us the Sumazau dance with such patience and joyfulness. After a few conversations and interactions with her, I came to realised that there is always one common in trait in all IP deep in their heart- which is their connection to the nature and their purest form of attitude towards life.

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IP are well known for their close to nature lifestyle. In climate change perspective, they are mostly one of the most vulnerable marginalised group. As most of them stays in remote areas- either in the forest, by the forest edge or near the forest, some even in the mountainous region; their lives are directly influenced by any climatic changes within the region.

Why? Well, for one, most IP do not get food from supermarkets or even wet markets. They gatherof plants, herbs and fruits, they fish, they hunt, they do some small scale planting, all for consumption and maybe for a bit of bartering or source of income. In the face of climate change, the most sensitive species will be most severely influenced, there those delicate fungi are gone, here some baby squirrels could not survive and there some beetles act all funny. You might think meh, two or three species were disturbed, so what? The forests have so much more but wait, do you not know that all species interact and rely on one another? They form a tightly knitted community and ecosystem where all species are either directly or indirectly related to each other. Changes in environment might perish a few species and the shake the ground of many other species. Without food, this might force the IP to shift away from their own villages as well as changing their lifestyle, which can be a threat to their cultures and social identities. Instability of food source, low ability to adapt changes and oppressed rights made them extremely vulnerable.

Researchers believe that some of the IP possess the traditional knowledge deemed essential to understand about our surrounding environment, which would be crucial to produce a comprehensive adaptive method that combines traditional knowledge with modern science. In the latest Paris Agreement, IP was recognized and acknowledged in the texts but it is under the non-legally binding preamble which shows no protection to this group of marginalized group which could be a key information provider in combating climate change.

I then recalled and flashed back all IP related events that I attended throughout COP21. From the side events in blue zone, country’s pavilions till the Global Landscape Forum; it seems that IP from the American continent (Canada, USA, Amazon and Brazil) were much more vocal and well represented in occasions like this. Asia’s IP are relatively quiet from my observation, especially those from South East Asia region.

I wonder was it because of lower media coverage? Or the lack of platforms to voice up?

I was buried in a thick hard clump of frustration thoughts (on the unjust treatment most IP had to bear) only to be levitated on Asia Day itself. The pavilions are filled with IP from numerous Asian regions showcasing  their traditional cultural performances. These nice people even prepared their traditional dishes as refreshment. I was deeply touched by all the efforts done by them. They traveled so far away from their hometown to Paris to  be part of this global event, all the while displaying good spirits of never stop fighting for their tribes. True, they might not have the capacity to understand nor participate in the negotiations, but at least they do whatever they could to show their eagerness in wanting  to be heard and they are concerned about global issues. With that said, I strongly believe that they deserve much more capacity building aids from their respective governments and international organisations.

Written by: Emily
Edited by: Wanji

 

Performing at Asia Cultural Night during Asia Day at COP21

Performing at Asia Cultural Night during Asia Day at COP21

13rd article picture 2During Promulgation Ceremony of the Malaysian Youth Statement on Climate Change towards COP21, I met Winnie from Jaringan Orang Asli SeMalaysia (JOAS) or The Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia. JOAS is the umbrella network for 21 community-based non-governmental organisations that have indigenous peoples’ issues as the focus. As the focal point for indigenous rights and advocacy in Malaysia, JOAS provides the indigenous communities with representation not just nationally, but regionally and internationally as well.

From chatting with her, I found out that she will be going to COP21 too, as a representative of JOAS. Hence, we stay connected via whatsapp prior to the trip so that my team and I could contact her or we could take care of each other in Paris in case of any emergency. After all, there is no harm in making more friends.

Before we depart to Paris, she contacted me for assistance in helping her in her Sumazau Dance performance during Asia Day on 9 December 2015 (Wednesday). Sumazau dance is a popular traditional folk dance of the Kadazan Dusun in Sabah. It is often performed during the harvest festival celebration every May. I cannot find a reason why I should reject her offer, so I informed the team and they agreed to help out too. Deep in my heart, I was so excited because this will be my first ever dance performance and it will held at Paris.

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During COP21, Emily and I met her on Monday (the same week as Asia Day) to learn the dance at Indigenous People Pavilion located in the Climate Generation Spaces (Green Zone) in Le Bourget. For your information, green zone is one of the officiate zone by COP21 that open to both public and accredited persons. It provides a huge space for debates, knowledge-sharing, discussions and conviviality. The IP pavilion will be focusing on indigenous people from Asia to showcase their cultures, ways of life and knowledge that provide solutions to climate change.

While learning the dance, Winnie explained to me that the dance was inspired by eagle flying patterns, symbolising freedom. For a first timer like me, the dance was not as hard as I expected as some of the moves are repetitive.

Asia Day was held on Wednesday with a variety of programme from morning till evening. Winnie was one the speakers for the panel discussion on Indigenous Peoples’ Contribution to Climate Change. She shared successful environmentally- friendly initiatives such as micro-hydro and community-led fisheries management system. The dance was arranged at the end of the programme which is “Asia Reception and Cultural Night”. Normally when I hear about cultural night, my first thought is that I can try food from different regions. My dream did come true and I will explain in a while.

My team and I arrived in the late afternoon for rehearsal. We met a youth delegate from Taiwan when we were walking from Blue Zone and he joined us for the dance performance as well. *applause*. Since the team is completed now, a clearer picture of the dance move can be seen. Still, practices makes perfect. After a few round of rehearsals, we were confident that we will be able to deliver the dance smoothly.

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The cultural night was packed with a few traditional dance performances by indigenous people in Asia regions such as Mongolia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Bhutan. Each of the performance was unique and impressive. Our performance, the Sumazau Dance is arranged at the closing of the event. As a result, everyone, including the audiences and other indigenous people started to dance together with us. At first, I was very nervous but after a while I felt nothing but joy. That moment had indeed became one of my  emotional anchors from now on.

As mentioned above, cultural night is normally linked with food. Yeap, traditional food from different Asian regions were served after the performances ended. To name a few, there were momo (dumplings) from Nepal, Hivana (Fish salad) from Malaysia, Salad Tea Leaves from Myanmar and Dim Sum. All of them taste really delicious. That made me felt a sudden pang of homesickness. I miss char kuey tiao, satay, laksa and bak kut teh back in Malaysia.

After the meal, we headed back to Blue Zone to attend Comite de Paris.

Written by: Thomas Lai
Edited by: Merryn Choong