On the 6-13 November 2022 I had the privilege of attending my very first Conference of Parties COP27 at Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt, under the Christian Climate Observers Programme ( CCOP). This was a very over whelming experience for me as a first timer being in a space full of thousands of people from around the globe, formally dressed up and many meeting areas, with different topics and ideologies, as I struggled to find myself however one of my fellow member of the CCOP27 group David Storer from Scotland said to me “ Never forget to represent and raise the voices of your people while you are here” , these words kept me going as I would always think of how climate change continues to affect us back at home .
This COP is said to be the “Africa COP” and indeed many Africans were in attendance and more over young African Climate Activist taking the stage and asking the important question on why the global north will hear the cry of the global south. Even though this was the African COP it felt to me like our African leaders were not in charge but kept trying the best to beg the global north to commit to resources towards climate finance and adaptation, (even when they only had an African audience in their space).
Loss and damage was on the mouths of all African activist including that of faith groups and civil society calling for those who have mostly contributed to global warming to honour the $100 billion yearly commitments towards climate vulnerable countries. I had an opportunity of attending a panel discussion led by Leah Namugerwa from Uganda with a group of young people, (this panel had two teenagers who looked under sixteen). When the panellists told their stories on how climate change has caused loss and damage in their lives and why they have decided to rise up to the call of being climate activists, one could not ignore the pain of trauma coming from their voices. You then get to ask yourself where then is human rights when kids who are suppose to be in school and allowed to be children are forced into becoming adults because of their pain caused by others. This continues to haunt me and will always be one of my take home pillars to rise and do my bit in combating climate change, and grow our communities into resilient climate smart communities.
To some people, stories of loss and damage might just be another story told, nice speech and tune but to most of us it brings back the trauma caused by climate change in our communities. The fact that parents had to bury their kids , others were forced to migrate to other areas and be forced into cheap labour just to survive. These are true stories that people are faced with daily, here is South Africa a community in KwaZulu Natal is still living in a community centre since the July floods, kids are forced to go to school and perform at the same rate as those who are still in their homes. The trauma is real, and the faith community needs to create a platform for healing.
On the 12 of November I had the privilege of being part of faith group delegation which met up with the Deputy executive Secretary of UN framework convention on climate change Mr Ovais Sarmad, to hand over a letter of demand from the faith community to COP27, which covered Climate Finance and Adaptation, Human rights and justice amongst other things.
A big thank you to the CCOP27 coordinating team, A Rocha International for allowing me to carry their badge, the local and international Green Anglicans movement and to Climate YES which I trust I represented well.