Reflections on COP28- Gender and Climate Justice

The journey began as I came across a call for applications to become part of the Christian Climate Observers Program for the COP28 held in Dubai, UAE. Upon applying I chose to attend the first week, got approved then started preparing towards that life changing journey.

 As a climate activist and a Creation Carer this was one of the most important conventions as it exposes one to many people working in the ‘climate change space’. This year’s COP was an important one because of the conversation around phasing out fossil fuels, therefore we all went there with a goal in mind, to deliberate around issues surrounding fossil fuels and the impact  it has on disadvantaged communities,

 I say because I carried the badge of Houghton College which I am grateful for and also under the banner of Climate Yes, Renew our World, Green Anglicans, Anglican Communion Environmental Network and Christian Aid. Ours has been and remains a call towards a just transition on renewable energy and phasing out of fossil fuels. 

Being in EXPO 2023 in Dubai expanded my horizon when it comes to the work, we do towards elimination (adaptation and mitigation to top the list) of climate anxiety and all it brings to the people we work with as a Christian community when it comes to natural disasters, some not so natural.

As an Observer my task was to be visible in conversations that happened in different hubs, to contribute by sharing or caring (signing up petitions and or statements), by networking with likeminded people doing the same kind of ministry I am involved with but most importantly to also document whatever I felt was important for the people not attending physically.

I was fortunate enough to share about South Africa and the work I am doing through Green Anglicans and Climate YES in the Faith Pavilion. The session was organised by Renew our World and the topic was the role of young people in adaptation.

Observations:

  • This year’s COP was rated as one with most registered attendees of the blue zone, it was said that about 100K people were said to be attending in person at the COP28 which topped  Glasgow by more than 50K+ people. This to me meant that conversation around fossil fuel was indeed the highlight.
  •  Presence and visibility of more young activists in this COP28 was also something that could not be ignored, most of these young people were also involved in side-events, speaking in different hubs too.
  • A fair number of women attended even though the ration was not that close, it to me meant that COP28 was also an open convention for both women and men.
  • Lack of continuity when it comes to previous COPs; there seems to be less and less conversation around climate adaptation and mitigation, however last year’s highlight of Loss and Damage was flagged at least as a priority in the agenda.
  • Young people and women from the UAE were not ‘as’ visible if at all.
  • Faith Pavilion; a place for people of Faith doing wonderful work in different parts of the world, influencing change, and fostering accountability in different levels of leadership. Meaningful conversations were held in this pavilion.

Highlights:

  • Meeting likeminded Christians under CCOP actively involved in the ministry of creation care.
  • Speaking at the Faith Pavilion on the intergenerational dialogue of youth and green sustainable jobs
  • Involvement of indigenous people in conversations surrounding how climate change affects their communities and possible solutions thereof inclusive of direct financing for climate action.
  • Islamic-Christian dialogue on perspective on climate at COP28 held at Abu Dhabi
  • UAE Education Hub in the green zone which had different station on how the country introduces green communities, green curriculum, green schools, and greening education stakeholders.
  • Meeting Ugandan climate activist, Vanessa Nakate, Prophet Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah at the Abu Dhabi Forum for Peace, Eugene Cho of Bread for the World, Archbishop Julio Murray of Panama who chairs the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, Agnes Lam co-chair of ACYN.
  • Dialogue on Health and Climate change
  • Use of different art forms  to address climate issues, building climate resilience and spreading the message on climate change work.
  • The youth hangout cafe and meeting young people of different faiths committed to climate justice
  • Being involved in ACT alliance stunts on Gender justice and Climate Justice which is something close to my heart and work.

Convictions and commitment:

  • Accountability should always be part of the conversation on climate issues in every corner of the world.
  • Climate adaptation and mitigation must be highlighted as to how we can work towards reaching net zero.
  • Collaborative work needs to be far stretched from pillar to post. I commit to partner with as many climate action organizations as possible
  • Capacity building on climate resilience is overdue.
  • People of Faith need to be at every negotiation table so as to voice out the concerns of the people they work with
  • Our different contributions put together can bring about change, we just need to put it out there and find like-minded partners to spread it far and wide.
  • Ours is to strong support climate change work, to have conversations that are meaningful and continuous until a just transition strategy is put in place

Outcomes:

  • Partly happy about the loss and damage fund, however the clarity on how it would be rolled out and funded  is not pleasing.
  • Saddened at the fact that fossil fuel lobbyists were invited to a convention seeking to eliminate climate change disasters.
  • Confused at how fossil fuel phasing out is not clear and how stock taking was made a ‘by the way thing’.
  • Encouraged to continue the fight on the struggle of disadvantaged communities affected by climate change.

I am grateful to the CCOP team for choosing me as one of the Observers to be part of COP28, also to Climate YES for financing my flight tickets to and from South Africa to Dubai. Thank you to the Anglican Communion for their generosity on providing meals for the duration of my stay.

To the UAE for hosting us, we felt safe throughout our stay, the assisting staff at EXPO 2023 went all out to make sure we find places we needed to find. To the Green Anglicans team of ACSA and Africa, ENKOSI!