What is COP?

COP stands for Conference of the Parties. Since 1995 countries have been meeting under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to co-ordinate international efforts to address climate change and hold each other to account for their emissions reduction commitments. Each year they debate the progress that has been made and negotiate additional measures to combat climate change.

In 2015 the Paris Agreement was finalised. Since then the climate talks have been focussed on how this agreement will be implemented. In December 2018, the rules and guidelines for how the Paris Agreement were largely finished

This year COP will be hosted in Chile where the agenda will focus on increasing ambition and finalising parts of the Paris Rulebook as well as progressing a range of other climate change related measures.

Non-governmental organisations, indigenous peoples, and youth attend the climate talks to pressure global leaders to make the right decisions and claim space for climate justice.

Why does Te Ara Whatu attend?

Climate change has drastically altered what it means to be a young person in this time in history.  While governments and communities tackle climate change, it’s crucial indigenous peoples and frontline communities are centred within the global solutions put forward.

We show up at COP to hold governments to account for indigenous rights and speak truth to our experience of colonisation. We show up in solidarity with mana whenua in the COP host region and demand just solutions for our communities.

This year, we will continue pushing for countries’ decisions at COP that uphold our rights and reflect climate justice. We will also be focussing on communicating the experience of COP and telling the stories of those who are attending across a range of mediums and platforms. The third component of our mahi will be acting in solidarity with our indigenous whanaunga in South America.

What are we looking for in a team member?

We are looking for indigenous youth between 18 and 30 years old who are passionate about the wellbeing of our whanau, taiao, and matauranga.

If you are interested in this kaupapa, you do not need to be a top international law expert or know all the details of climate science as we will provide the necessary training.

We welcome applications from indigenous youth who are willing to learn new skills and knowledge and open to stepping outside of their comfort zone.

A day in the life of COP

On a day to day level COP can look like a mix of:

  • Morning caucus of the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate Change

  • Breaking out into work teams to follow different segments of the negotiations

  • Creating articles, stories, press releases and interviewing people

  • Meeting with government negotiators to advocate for indigenous rights

  • Providing space with other young indigenous people to come together to process the experience and connect with each other

  • Working with other frontline and climate justice organisations to co-ordinate actions and protests


Attending COP will cost approximately $4,500. This includes flights, accomodation, insurance, sim cards, and kai.

It is Te Ara Whatu’s commitment that cost should not be a barrier to attending these negotiations. However, it will take mahi from the rōpū and supporting networks to secure funding. Te Ara Whatu’s support team will help co-ordinate fundraising through grants, events and a crowdfunder campaign.


You will be expected to attend 2 three day weekend wānanga in preparation for COP. This is so you’re able mahi in the different climate spaces confident in your skills and knowledge and be well connected as a team. These wānanga will take place in early August and early November respectively.

If cost is a barrier to attending these wānanga, Te Ara Whatu can help with this.

We also ask for an hour per week for online hui, online trainings, fundraising efforts and media responses. This may be less or more depending on what needs to be done.

The team is expected to leave for the climate talks together on 27th November. Our time together will be completed on 16th December after which you are welcome to head home or travel elsewhere.

Interested in applying?

You can apply by either answering the application questions in writing OR with a video that is no longer than 6 minutes. Which ever way you want to submit, click here to submit your application.

We will be in touch shortly after applications close to arrange a round of interviews before deciding on the final delegation members.

Applications close midnight 30th of June, 2019.