by Sue Rheem, Coordinator, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations
Earlier this week, on Sunday, November 6th, about 100 climate justice advocates from various faith groups came together to reflect on solutions from a holistic perspective at the beautiful El sama Eyeen Coptic Church, not far from the convention center where COP27 was taking place. It was also available online for those who couldn’t travel to Sharm el-Sheikh.
We gathered to share our stories, respective initiatives, concerns and hopes in the spirit of the Talanoa Dialogues which is a Fijian indigenous peoples’ way of solving problems in their communities through storytelling, building empathy and trust. Fiji introduced the concept to work on the most challenging issues when it was the president of COP23. The methodology of a Talanoa Dialogue leads participants to address the following questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? How do we get there?
COP27 is taking place at a crucial moment for governments to move forward on implementation of the Paris Agreement, and to address the adverse impacts of climate change. Key issues for COP27 include commitments on finance, especially for loss and damage, and raising ambition on mitigation (reducing carbon emissions) and adaptation actions, grounded in the respect of the dignity and human rights of people. However, these challenges have been exacerbated by other recent world events like the pandemic and the war in Ukraine.
We gathered together to hear stories from different perspectives and regions of the world. We broke up into small groups to address the questions in a reflective way as people of faith. We ended the evening by coming together in worship weaving together various faith traditions.
Grounded in faith, it was a nourishing and hopeful way to begin COP27, to be able to look at solutions from different angles, and to reflect on the call to care for the earth and our most affected siblings from climate change. The Interfaith Talanoa Call — expressing concerns, demands and hopes of those present — will be delivered to the UNFCCC Executive Secretariat, so the voice of the voiceless and the most vulnerable will be heard.