COP23 – Thoughts #1

On our way to Bonn, we had a chance meeting with Winston Lackin from Suriname.

Winston Lackin, who speaks in this video, shared that he was formerly the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Suriname. He is currently the Representative of the President, and is travelling with staff from the Environment department, which reports to the Cabinet of the President.

Winston shared that Suriname is a small country on the north-east coast of South Amercia. Known also as the “Beating Heart of the Amazon”, more than 93% of Suriname is covered by tropical rainforest. The people live mainly at the coastal areas.

Winston says youth play a very important role in Suriname. Some 67% of people in Suriname are youth! It comes as no surprise when he mentions that the country’s portfolio under CARICOM, a group of 15 countries of the Carribean Sea, focuses on youth and gender.

The country is like a small United Nations. People come from all over, including Africa, India, Indonesia, China, Brazil and Malaysia. Because of its diversity, Suriname has much diversity in its culinary dishes too. The people speak Dutch, Portuguese, and English.

Winston shared that they are thankful for Singapore for providing a lot of technical training, including ICT.



Post-conversation, I wondered how many friends from Singapore would have heard about this coastal nation. This was certainly something new to me! Felt I learnt so much just by having a conversation while waiting for bus.

I got reminded that the UN climate change conference (COP) is one place where I get to meet and speak to just about anybody. Many of these people I wouldn’t even dream of meeting or talking to if their contact details are easily available via the internet. Simply because these people are inaccessible, or at least they seem so.

Winston is one of those people who was quite happy to share, and also happy to do a 2-min video that would be posted on Facebook. His team mates were also excited to share. In the end though, his team didn’t say a thing during the 2-min video. I wonder if I should have just focused the video on Winston instead, and do one-to-one videos with the rest if they were keen.

I find that it is these precious chance moments of potentially meeting someone, connecting with someone, that I really appreciate. These chance meetings happen everywhere, be it at a bus-stop, at a breakfast table, at the lobby, at the corridor, and even at the laundry area. One just need to say hello, and have time for conversation.


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