COP27 may be over but the delegates’ voices continue
It’s a few weeks since I returned from COP27, held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, where I accompanied the KAIROS Canada and For the Love of Creation delegation. Delegates included Indigenous partners and youth from Turtle Island, and KAIROS Women, Peace and Security and global solidarity partners. You may have met them at our events, watched their videos or read their blogs.
It was an intense 10 days and I come back full of new experiences, learning and reflections. Most of all it was a great privilege to spend time with these delegates as we navigated COP together and tried to bring their voices to the fore, individually and collectively. There was real cohesion; friendships and lasting relationships were forged around a commitment to climate justice, which are so important for this work in the long haul.
As a delegation we covered a lot of ground. Delegates attended meetings that were most interesting and relevant to their work and contexts as well as participated in events together. Each day we posted a blog written by a different delegate. I encourage you to read them, as they chronicle our collective experience.
This collective experience was so strong because the delegates are who they are and made things happen. I was privileged to hear about their experiences first-hand in our conversations and reflections at the end of each day. There were so many, but here are a few….
Just a few days after we arrived at COP, Tia Kennedy was invited to a meeting of Indigenous, Black and other racialized youth with Steven Guilbeault, the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change. When asked to explain the challenges faced by First Nation’s youth, Tia invited him to her community. Later, after a civil society briefing with the Minister, Tia reminded him of this invitation. In her reflection and at the post COP27 event, she spoke about this experience and noted that it was probably a long time since the Minister had connected with the land, something so important for all of us.
Then there was the time that Yusra Shafi, determined to learn more about the negotiations, made her way to a negotiators’ training session, and ended up sitting with members of the Canadian negotiating team.
While at the Colombian Pavilion, Kelly Campo had the opportunity to talk to the Colombian Minister of Environment, something that would have been so difficult in Colombia.
There was the connection that Chantal Bilulu and Hana Kare made with Canada’s Climate Ambassador, about the nexus of climate, conflict and gender inequality in DRC and Palestine after the Ambassador’s participation in their group discussion at our event at the Canadian Pavilion.
We also organized events as a delegation. A collective highlight was the entire delegation’s involvement in the KAIROS Blanket Exercise under the leadership of Clifford Mushquash. Clifford’s blog is a powerful account of this experience.
From the onset, delivering the KAIROS Blanket Exercise at COP27 was a delegation objective. We were determined to find space to do the KAIROS Blanket Exercise, not quite realizing that there was such limited space for civil society at this COP. We did find the perfect space to present the Exercise – at the Civil Society Ecological Justice Hub.
KAIROS and its networks have been trying to better understand and communicate the relationship between colonization, land and the climate crisis. The relationship between the climate crisis and colonization is finally being recognized by bodies like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Experiencing the KAIROS Blanket Exercise at COP27 made this connection, visible, clear and indisputable. Seeing the blankets at the end of the exercise and hearing participants in the talking circle, who shared their experiences of the impacts of colonization and climate change on their communities, demonstrated so clearly the devastating impacts of historic and ongoing colonization on the land and the environment. It also demonstrated the urgent need for a different relationship with Mother Earth, a decolonization led by Indigenous peoples.
The delegation also co-hosted, with the Equality Fund, an event at the Canadian Pavilion – Global Perspectives on Climate, Conflict & Peace and Gender Equality – which featured our women, peace and security partners. All delegates contributed to the event. Tia opened it in a good way, and other delegates helped with photos and recordings. A full recording of the panel will be posted shortly.
KAIROS’ women, peace and security partners did a brilliant job presenting their context and work as local peacebuilders addressing the climate crisis, ongoing conflict and gender violence. We then broke into small discussion groups. Canada’s Climate Ambassador, Catherine Stewart, participated in the entire event, including the small group discussion. Radia Mbengue, KAIROS’ Global Partnerships Coordinator: Africa and Climate Justice, and I and members of ACT Alliance met with the Ambassador later that day and we were able to follow up on the messages and recommendations from partners. Canadian Senator Bovey was also present, and greeted and thanked the partners after their presentations.
The experience of being at COP27 with the KAIROS and For Love of Creation delegation was rich, meaningful, grounded, and I think effective in bringing the voices of delegates to the fore. Global summits are what participants make them, and who participates in them too.
Our delegation sought to bring some of the voices of those who are most affected by the climate crisis, least heard and most likely to have effective, sustainable solutions. And I think we succeeded. I felt a strengthened commitment and resolve from delegates to work for climate justice. You could hear it in conversations, in their presentations and in their messages to the media and government. You can read it in their blogs. And you will continue to hear from these delegates. I know that they will go on to do great things with this experience as individuals and collectively, and that KAIROS’ work on ecological justice will be stronger, more effective and vibrant because of them.
By Rachel Warden, KAIROS’ Partnerships Manager.