From 6-18 November, COP27 takes place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. As world leaders gather to discuss pressing issues of environmental protection and sustainability, it is our hope and prayer that this Climate Conference (COP27 = 27th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) will take us at least a few steps closer to justice for the most vulnerable people and communities around the world.
This COP is significant in several ways: Firstly, it’s hosted by an African country, providing opportunities to highlight issues affecting developing nations, and to raise African voices. Attention of policy makers and the public can be drawn to stories from African activists and African experiences of climate change. It’s a chance, but it’s also a challenge since there are concerns about civil society space being squeezed by the Egyptian Presidency. We need to do our best to support African faith actors in being heard and in shaping the discussions and outcomes.
Secondly, although COP27 is not considered a ‘milestone COP’ (like Kyoto, Copenhagen, Paris and most recently Glasgow), the climate conference is important as the core focus lies on implementation. Lots of climate promises have been made in the past, including at COP26 in Scotland last year, and it’s vital that they are turned into reality and that they work for people in poverty. Almost every country in the world will be represented, providing our best hope for ambitious and fair global agreements on climate change. While we saw some good pledges being made at COP26, COP27 will be an important advocacy opportunity to ensure implementation of these pledges. It’s time to walk the talk. It’s time that a ‘Yes’ is a ‘Yes’ (Matthew 5:37).
Specifically, for this Climate COP we can pray and advocate for decision makers to:
- rebuild trust with climate-vulnerable nations by ensuring that there is full delivery of the promised $100 billion in climate finance annually, including 50% for climate adaptation measures,
- strengthen transparency and accountability for climate finance,
- invest in good green jobs for youth, including through climate finance and
- legalize the status of climate refugees – giving them access to healthcare, work, and educational rights.
Besides many other aspects of creation care – ranging from financing and food systems to housing and biodiversity – COP27 also touches on the important topic of sustainable urban development.
The river Nile runs through the COP27 host country’s capital Cairo, a city with a population of over 21 million people. Egypt’s annual urban growth rate of 2 percent means that cities in the country have to accommodate almost 1 million new citizens every year. And it is not just Egypt that is seeing rapid urbanization. In 30 years, the percentage of the world’s population living in cities will have increased from 55 to 75 percent. This rapid urbanization exacerbates serious social, economic, ecological and spiritual problems and demands that we all take action.
Psalm 46:4 speaks of “a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.” As the river flowing through the city brings life to its people, so the presence of God brings life to all creation. As we seek God and reorient our faith to the city, we believe that He will bring new life to the desert lands and our cities will become gardens where all creation can flourish.
Many blessings for your November!
Matthias Boehning, Co-Director World Evangelical Alliance Sustainability Center