GLASGOW (Reuters) - After walking thousands of miles across Europe, a giant puppet named Little Amal reached the Glasgow COP26 talks on Tuesday to raise awareness of the plight of refugee children on the front line of climate change.
On Gender Day, the 3.5 metre (11 feet) tall Amal - a figure representing a young Syrian girl refugee - opened the plenary session of the talks, together with Samoan climate activist Brianna Fruean.
Before the audience of climate negotiators, the pair exchanged gifts - a flower, representing light and hope, from Fruean and a bag of seeds from Little Amal.
Fruean called on the climate talks "to work and fight so that all little girls inherit the world that they deserve, to lay the foundation for change to grow".
The seeds, she said, were to remind the negotiators of their "role as planters of a global future" and that the real work will happen after the climate talks, scheduled to end on Friday, when efforts should begin to put words into action to cap the global temperature rise.
President of the climate talks Alok Sharma of host nation Britain said gender and climate were "profoundly intertwined".
"We know that the impact of climate change affects women and girls disproportionately," he said, adding that attempts to tackle climate change were more effective when women and girls were put at the centre of those efforts.
After leaving the conference hall, Little Amal - named after the Arabic word for hope - was led away by her puppeteers to meet other climate campaigners.
As well as the seeds, she has delivered to the talks an open letter, organised by climate campaigners Avaaz, calling for urgent emission cuts and signed by 1.8 million people around the world.
The Handspring Puppet Company, based in Cape Town, South Africa, created Little Amal, who began her journey on July 27 in Gaziantep, Turkey, near the Syrian border, and has followed in the footsteps of thousands of refugees.
(Reporting by Ilze Filks in Glasgow; additional reporting by Gavin Jones in Rome, Writing by Barbara Lewis; Editing by Giles Elgood)