COP20 Fashion: Jeff Buhse

11 Dec 2014
Activist displaying traditional headdress at COP20. Photo: LWF/Sean Hawkey

Activist displaying traditional headdress at COP20. Photo: LWF/Sean Hawkey

Department for Mission and Development

By Jeff Buhse, LWF Youth Delegate (COP20) 

With a slightly lighter tone, I think it is a good time to comment on the fashion styling’s of several COP delegates and observers. International conferences are always a good time to see different styles and outfits as there are a number of representatives from around the world. Having been involved with a number of LWF events in the past, I have become quite familiar with these sorts of eclectic fashion statements, and even look forward to seeing them.

Within the Civil Society delegations (official observers such as the LWF, other NGO's and IGO's, etc.) one can find the most diversity in terms of style. Even within our own LWF delegation one can come across a bit of everything – from beautiful Indian dresses with vibrant colors and elaborate details to more serious shirt and pants.  You’ll even find folks like me parading around in our best Canadian outfits:  plaid shirt and shorts. Of course, my shorts are reserved for events outside of the COP meetings, as I do want to preserve an air of professionalism, but once we are back at the hotel, you can certainly find the “Canadian” in the room. :)

Walking around the COP you will see a greater variety of traditional aboriginal outfits from around the world as well— from headdresses, gowns, and whatever else you can imagine. You may even see a few exposed tattoos. However, suits are what one will find the most.

The official negotiators from the different countries are required to wear suits and even from this detail there is still a lot of variety – from tight-fitting suits available only on a Paris runway to over-sized suits to ones that I would likely borrow from my dad back in high school. The thing that I found most amusing about all of the suits at COP is that due to the heat, the dress code has been changed from business (suit and tie) to business casual (they no longer require a tie). It seems a little ironic to me that at a conference that is notorious for moving incredibly slow and preventing some real action to prevent climate change, there is a concern about things being too hot. Perhaps if we made the negotiators keep their shirts buttoned right to the top with their tie tight, they would feel the heat (literally and figuratively) and negotiations would move along a bit quicker and a meaningful, ambitious agreement would be found sooner.


Department for Mission and Development
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author, and not necessarily representative of Lutheran World Federation policy.