Meet the River

UN Water Conference
New York City, USA

Water rushes down a waterfall from a high mountain
It passes through rapids,
passes through a wetland,
and then it encounters a desert...
It can't continue flowing anymore.
Water cried and said,
The desert is my destiny...
I can never cross the desert.At this time,

Wind spoke to Water,
Water, Water, you are not only water.
Water is just a temporary phenomenon,
you can become water vapor,
and then become a cloud through the wind.
I will blow you across the desert,
and then you turn into rain.
You will become water again.

Therefore, the desert does not exist for you.
When we face a problem,
there isn’t an apparent solution from the past experience.
It’s because you think you are water.
In fact, you are more than water.

COP28 UAE, “Meet the Desert” provided an intimate, creative space that allowed one to become “water” – to explore and express the emotions hidden in our relationship with water, but also our experiences and mission working for climate change. The programme featured Dubai-based, Russian singer Yana Mann, Hong-Kong-based violinist, and climate activist . It was moderated by Elena Andreoni, founder of Cultural Insiders, a cultural platform that covers the GCC countries. It was also made possible thanks to Art of Change 21, a Paris-based art incubator founded at COP21 in 2015.

On December 12th, the last day of “Meet the Desert” opened up a conversation on people’s first memories with water, sharing our childhood stories about water from innocent observations of the world, including the first interactions with natural water bodies, but also traces of climate change and ecological destruction that were already present back then. We exchanged mythologies from different cultures: the Sumerian god of water and wisdom, Enki, and the Chinese dragon that connects heaven to the water on earth. It also brought us to concerns about the aquifers in the Middle East, the desalination and cloud seeding technology and its consequences that potentially bring severe droughts, flooding (due to the threshold of the city’s drainage systems), micro-pollutants to the local region, along with unpredictable the long-term global implications.

The programme was hosted by Entertainment + Culture Pavilion, the very first official platform for artists, activists, and cultural workers in the Blue Zone of COP. This demonstrates the relentless efforts of arts and culture workers in the climate space to amplify the voices of the creatives from the periphery of policymaking and sustainability to the leading force to drive change.