Green Night at the Embassy of France
The COP21 United Nations Climate Conference is well into its second week, and as hundreds of people involved in the negotiations work to reach an agreement by this Friday, individuals and organizations around the world have come together in support of these international efforts to reduce the disastrous effects of climate change.
The Embassy of France invited the public to take part in these efforts with Green Night, which was held on December 8. Featuring films, photo and art exhibitions, music and conversations with major actors on climate change, Green Night drew hundreds of people to the embassy.
Ambassador Gérard Araud gave opening remarks at Green Night, speaking about the progress made thus far at COP21 and the steps that must be taken to achieve the terms set by the agreement in Paris. He thanked the Obama administration, which he said had been "extremely supportive in COP21 efforts," and said he was optimistic that the conference would be a success.
Other speakers at Green Night included Assistant Secretary of Oceans, Environment and Science Judith Garber, Chief of the Green Building & Climate Branch at the D.C. Department of Energy and the Environment Bill Updike, Executive Director of the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund Olivier Langrant and Vice-President of Brand Marketing at Conservation International Will Villota. While all speakers are engaged in different efforts to combat climate change, they all stressed that every citizen plays an important role in carrying out the goals set by COP21. They also emphasized the vital importance of nature to humankind. As Will Villota of Conservation International said, "Nature doesn’t need people. People need nature."
As the night went on, attendees enjoyed a film series by Conservation International entitled Nature is Speaking, which featured the voices of actors such as Liam Neeson, Lupita Nyong’o, Penelope Cruz and Harrison Ford. Two of Conservation International’s new films premiered at the event, and were narrated in French by Sophie Marceau and Nicolas Hulot. Vincent Amouroux’s documentary Planet Ice: Greenland, A Journey Under the Ice was also screened at Green Night, tracking the movement of ice in Greenland. Another documentary, Yann Arhthus-Bertrand’s Planet Ocean, took a close look at one of the earth’s most vast and precious resources in the hopes of encouraging viewers to better protect the planet. Rob Kunzig, senior editor at National Geographic, also gave a talk about "Surviving the Age of Man."
Throughout the night, attendees enjoyed a photo exhibition on biodiversity hotspots curated by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, a contemporary art exhibition by Edmond Van der Bijl, displays of dresses by Isagus Extroversions made entirely from recyclable material and of course, French food and drink. At the end of the night, the embassy was filled with many confident spirits, hopeful that the changes to the environment sought by COP21 can be accomplished with the help of all levels of society.
• Click HERE to see more pictures of this event on Flickr.