Spoken word poetry at the Global NDC Conference 2023

Global NDC Conference 2023, Berlin

Following the success of the climate pop-up theatre in 2019, the opening of the Global NDC Conference 2023 was marked by a cultural element via performance poetry. Alice Dalrymple—indigenous women’s leader from the Kalinago Territory, Commonwealth of Dominica—recited the spoken word poem Tell me.

Alice touched upon several topics that are part of the essence of the Global NDC Conference: justice, leadership, innovation, connection, participation, and inclusion. In her poem, Alice mentioned there is a need to not just talk about sustainability, peace, and change but an urgency to develop the right solutions that are needed to solve crises. These solutions, implied Alice, should be applicable to different contexts, be fair, and recognize the different perspectives, approaches, and capacities to transform societies.

The 2019 edition of the NDC Conference already spotlighted systemic leadership for NDC implementation as the path to transforming personal and collective capacities, recognising the importance of context and working with principles and practices rather than rules that are set in stone. For instance, through cycles of experimentation, learning, reflection, and adaptation that would tackle complex issues, as is climate ambition raising. Reasoning behind this is the imperative for climate action to deal with greater agility, shorter planning cycles and working more collaboratively across multi-stakeholder groups.

This year’s edition of the conference, on the other hand, aimed to inspire practitioners and decisionmakers to lead by and contribute to enabling just, feasible and financeable Nationally Determined Contributions, towards the next round of submissions in 2025. Under this premise, Tell me provided the perfect framing to kick off the three-day programme by inviting participants to think about ways to use their expertise, skills, knowledge, resources, and connections to effect change and allow the continuity of efforts, embracing the next generation by building a present.

Global NDC Conference 2023, Berlin | © Jan Rottler

Read Alice Dalrymple’s poem: 

Tell me

Tell me,
How can we be sustainable without a call to action: to end poverty
The need for the hard basic necessities of life: food, shelter
And the softer needs like: education, love, inclusiveness[?]


How can we protect the planet without painting the pictures of the green space, the blue economy,
The orange imagination of diversity and eco-friendly generation, to breathe new life, fresh air
Wiping the ugly faces of pollution, while we build safer zones as we map our way through the puzzled world[?]


Tell me,
How can we enjoy peace and prosperity without, taking time to reflect, rediscover
Perform acts of kindness, smiling at the pain and struggles and managing differences without dispute
Not over-exerting power, instead easing tensions, not just talking peace, but being peace while putting the bleeding pieces back together, healing wounds already healed and opened again and security to feel safe: safely[?]


Tell me,
How can we expand the richness of human life without building strong and resilient economies that will create a safe place for human beings to not just exist but live happy fulfilling lives, contributing to human development, building people, regardless of race, colour, ethnicity, religion, creed and grabbing opportunities where there is freedom of choice without judgement, without discrimination, without fear
Being open-minded, being creative, being free[?]


Tell me
How can we develop challenges and solutions without tackling crisis and problems and difficulties and without discussing approaches and frameworks and policies
Or without using skills, technology, and integration to achieve a unified goal to fix, to correct, to erase and build new boxes outside of the boxes, shifting and sifting to find out the best, the right method, the perfect solution to effect change, transformation, betterment, balance, fair play that can be recognized and included at all levels[?]


Tell me,
How can we embrace the next generation without building the present through leadership,
Leadership that has been tested, tried in our homes, communities, countries, trapped and rescued out of disaster and chaos in a fast changing world that is evolving and moving, turning with the times, new experiences, new technology, being able to respond, adapt, to catch up and fall in line and keep up and move ahead with preparation and planning to continue generating through generations, this hope, this opportunity, to be strong, to continue, to carry the baton ahead of those behind[?]

Tell me,
How can we as individuals fit in, how can we contribute
How can we use what we uniquely hold so deep inside our beings to marry our expertise, our skills, knowledge, our resources, our connections as experts as researchers, as economists, as analysts, as communicators, as innovators, as scientists, as whatever you imagine you are, whatever it is to effect that change[?]

Think about it. Think some more. Keep thinking. Now stop.


What next? Tell me.