One of the best comment pieces we have seen after the COP26 meetings in Glasgow last November comes from Kuki Rokhum who works with EFICOR in India. Kuki is a veteran COP-attender (unlike your editor, who has managed to not attend any COP meeting up to now!) and does a good job of expressing why, after so many conferences, she continues to be encouraged, particularly by the increasing (and increasingly visible) response of the church. (For a whole list of other evaluation articles, click here.)
Here is a portion of what she had to say (click here for the whole piece):
So why was this COP different and what gives me hope and why am I more hopeful?
The biggest difference this year was that it was a meeting that was organized in the midst of a global pandemic – a pandemic that has changed lives and obviously impacted the way in which COP was conducted and also dictated a lot of the logistics at the venue. The usual hub and noise of COP with civils society organisations actively engaged seemed to be missing to a certain extent. The ‘hybrid’ or exclusive online sessions meant that technology had to be of the highest quality and that many speakers and participants did not have to travel all the way to the venue thus avoiding even more carbon footprint.
This was also a different COP as the ‘world’ had an extra year to prepare for it as it was postponed from 2020. The biggest advantage of this was the anticipation and talk about COP26 on many media platforms before it happened. The social media world was inundated with posts about the event which was a welcome change to previous years where very little is known about the event at all in popular media…
In previous COPs, we had some Christian engagement – I remember addressing a group of church leaders at a church breakfast event in Lima talking about why we should be interested in the COP happening in their city, there were similar but small scale events in Paris and Bonn too. Glasgow was completely different. It was so encouraging to see Christian young people across the world and especially in the UK taking this up and making their voices heard…
I have had the privilege of speaking in churches or Christian events in previous COP venues. This was the first time that I found myself ‘extremely busy’ speaking at many church events speaking, leading prayers, joining in worship – all related to COP. And I was not the only speaker – there were several others who were equally or even busier than I was. When the team that I was travelling with arrived by train to Glasgow we arrived at St. George’s Tron church – right in the heart of the city. That church became a hub for so many services and events related to the COP. Most events fully booked! There were so many networks and groups working together to inform and engage with people from all over the world. It was exciting to see how much better we had become at working together. I am hopeful as there so many more churches who have realized that creation care is an issue of Christian discipleship and are committing and calling for more action.