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All We Can’s Director of Public Engagement, Steve Adams, reflects on the team’s experience at COP26 – and explores what this means for our local partners around the world.
It was wonderful for its variety, but disappointing for its lack of diversity.
Many, many, many people groups most affected by the issues discussed were absent.
A small team from All We Can were at COP. We saw reasons for hope – and for continued commitment.
COP was inspiring for its marches through Glasgow, but saddening for its lack of interaction between the world leaders and the tens of thousands speaking to them from ‘outside’.
It was overwhelming for the smorgasbord of titanic-sized issues on the tabletop of the list the global climate crisis, eco-system fragmentation, and the climate finance promised to the same nations not well represented.
My personal pictures and posts from COP26 capture the ‘friendly-chaos’ of it all.
They include a double-decker sized unicorn. A Belgian Princess (Esmerelda) disguised behind a facemask at a COP26 event on moral courage. A sea-gull large enough to lift a tractor. A loch-ness-monster hauled from the Clyde by the police. Placards calling for the ‘rich’ to be composted. A wicker-coffin converted into a boat-on-wheels (and pushed all the way from Cornwall). You get the idea.
And, in the middle of all this, as the rain poured, Homeless Jesus* lay on a bench, under a blanket, in Nelson Mandela Place, Glasgow City centre.
In 2009 economically rich nations promised $100 billion a year in climate finance to nations already suffering local catastrophic climate impacts.
Increasing amounts of our partners’ work can be traced to situations and challenges triggered by the widening impacts of the climate crisis.
As All We Can, we were at COP to share the experiences of our partners and bring their stories; to lobby for promises of climate finance to their nations to be honoured.
As homeless Jesus lay in Glasgow, next to a church, his weakened form was a poignant and present reminder of those who suffer but were not present.
Our prayer is that the world leaders remember them.
As All We Can, we remain convinced that supporting local partners as they unlock the potential of local people and communities is a defining step. COP intensified our understanding of just how critical this remains.
You can find resources for your and your church to explore issues of climate justice in the wake of COP26 here.
*The Homeless Jesus Sculpture is by Canadian sculptor Timothy Schmalz, and has been placed in cities around the world since 2013. It is currently in Nelson Mandela Place, Glasgow.
Steve Adams is Director of Public Engagement at All We Can. He was formerly a consultant with clients including the UK Charity Commission, INGOs across Africa and in the US, Germany, Ireland, and the UK; and corporates in the retail sector. He spent 13 years at Tearfund UK as Head of Global Brand & Comms, and previously worked at GMTV.