As negotiations in Glasgow went down to the wire in week two of COP26, civil society organizations presented a rich programme of events to communicate their vision for meaningful action.
Climate justice, climate finance, and protection for the most vulnerable people, regions and species, have taken the discussion far beyond 1.5C and net zero over the past fortnight.
Myriad ways have been used to communicate, from exhibitions and protests to playful events including multi-media activities.
Youth BK, Nicole Travnicek highlighted a YOUNGO event on Trans-boundary collaboration and resilience where artists used puppet shows, video games, cards and songs to deliver education and encourage engagement - “giving people agency to work together.”
Values-based action is effective action
Focus has been on: What are ordinary people outside the corridors of power to do? Are we doing enough? If not, where do we go from here?
The Brahma Kumaris have long emphasized personal responsibility founded on the philosophy “When I change, the world changes.” Since 2009, the Environment Initiative has shown how a shift in lifestyle makes a difference.
At institutional level, principle has been put into practice, with major projects - both high-tech and at the grass roots - such as solar power and sustainable yogic agriculture in India.
Values lie at the heart of the BKs’ approach. At a press conference, November 9, Sister Jayanti, leader of the delegation in Glasgow, said: “This is a transition moment, when hope is rising. Faith based organizations are playing a huge role at COP26 reminding us of values and encouraging us to hope.”
Separately, the principle was explored by Laura Nagel, from Germany’s Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies. In Energy transition – compassionate leadership towards a sustainable world, she said effective campaigns to change people’s behaviour are both values-based and rooted in the local environment, while encompassing the bigger picture.
People are motivated to change not by fear, which can create a sense of fatalism, but by believing they can work on tangible local issues with an immediate effect, based on their personal values. For climate action to be effective “we need to understand what motivates people, and to connect with this.”
In The Future is Us – Yogis for Future, a small, engaged gathering at Glasgow Unitarian Church, explored ways of thinking outside the box to find climate solutions, led by BKs Sonja Ohlsson and Golo Pilz.
“We used Environment Initiative eco cards to guide us to which value is connected to personal change and climate action, which values are connected to our present engagement in climate change, and which we will need in the future,” said Sonja, who is international coordinator for the
And there was a chance to share thoughts on personal and collective action in the face of the climate crisis at Uniting Hearts to Heal the World, November 7.
Acknowledging that courage and compassion are needed, participants at this interfaith event discussed ways to stay in touch with our humanity in the face of the “dehumanizing” situation, said BK Maria Faundez. Choosing to live in the change we all want to see, believing human beings can bring about transformation, and faith in our ability to create, were among the many qualities identified.
From vision to collective action
Inspiring stories of vision leading to collective action featured in Energy transition – Deciding our Future, November 8.
After witnessing the destruction of rainforest, Catherine Allinson, Director of Future Earth Ltd, pledged to change the course of her life and dedicate it to speaking on behalf of species that have no voice. She now works to bring the transition to renewables to people across the globe.
Paul Allen, coordinator of Zero Carbon Britain at the Centre for Alternative Energy in Wales, shared how a powerful vision can be translated into positive action in the world. The Centre, which has been ahead of its time in advocating the need for zero carbon, is instrumental in supporting practical initiatives to transform the approach to energy among other groups.
What is needed is to develop an “end-point vision” that we can bring to life in the mind for it to manifest in the world, he said.
A fitting tribute to the wealth of activities presented by non-state organizations at COP26.