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Non-state actors promoting and collaborating on local knowledge and initiatives for climate action

9 December 2019
Local and indigenous knowledge to climate action at the 2nd Capacity-building Hub during COP25 Madrid with Ecojesuit and the Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities as key

Local and indigenous knowledge to climate action at the 2nd Capacity-building Hub during COP25 Madrid with Ecojesuit and the Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities as key

Pedro Walpole SJ

We are here at COP25 Madrid for climate action, recognizing the scientific knowledge, the state of political inaction, and the call for greater peace in a world where conflicts are growing. While recognizing the important role of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as a valuable inter-governmental platform and the frustration of many negotiators, the response is inadequate to the emergency.

However, this space that the 2nd Capacity-building Hub provides through this session on local and indigenous knowledge to climate action during the Capacity-building Knowledge to Action Day gives us an opportunity to network with many more initiatives.

We have a climate emergency and while recognizing that personal and community action are fundamental, we cannot be effective alone, as we are all tied into the global problem. Unless we can engage the political and market forces of this global world, we cannot get the necessary change.

While struggling with the political arthritis of this age and damaging polarization in many countries, together we look for new ways to seek effective action. We seek greater collaboration amongst social action groups, networks for change, and faith-based organizations. We affirm different knowledge systems, indigenous peoples, and local community-led initiatives to address life concerns that are global. And COP25 is alive with the youth of the world who are the reality of change that needs their participation, commitment, and hope.

2019_12_06_Editorial_Photo2In many of these local situations in our countries, we struggle for human rights.Human rights are not to be assumed today like the rights of the planet that sustains all life, as all rights today are subject to immediate market biases. In the preamble of the COP21 agreement where human rights were mentioned and were a focus for removal, all the more human and planetary rights must grow with integral action showing the needed integrity of the change that is called for.

Urban societies and media today are not fairly communicating or reporting the human relationship with the land and seas. Our dependency is far greater, and we must work for one household balancing one ecology and a sustainable economy.

Most rural communities and the margins of many urban centers survive because of the acknowledged dependency and support of community values. And while we also find violence and drugs, these are but symptoms of the burden such communities bear. These communities hold together because of a shared faith. Eighty percent of world population has a faith base and while there are conflicts, we must seek dialogue.

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) programs are not going to be successful unless there isa community that engages and ferments the hope necessary. The history of health services in many poor areas is provided by faith-based organizations. The livelihoods of those dependent upon the land and seas today are connected to their faith and this needs to be strengthened to have hope in seeking justice and the basic needs of the people, land and seas.

Laudato Si’ is a faith-based call to all people, starting with a sense of gratitude and seeking to share a vision of hope and endurance seeking change. The process of seeking the understanding of the indigenous and the margins in preparation for the Synod for the Amazon was, for all, a point of conversion and commitment to the marginalized and to the youth.

Climate action calls all of us here to COP25. We all have fears of wasting time and resources and doing more damage by coming here, but we must come to engage and deepen the political and social commitment to the urgent need for a declaration that is just and implementable. We cannot act alone.

Vulnerability defines so much of the world today and this has increased because of the economic elitism that has emerged with increased areas of poverty and the climatic disturbances and movement of the seasons that our small farmers, land and sea users face at every turn in the weather. These are one and the same problem.

We know enough through the sciences, physical and social, as to the sources of the problem, but we lack the social mechanisms and the peaceful, trustworthy, and political policy framework for action. And this is what we are here for: the social mechanisms for the peaceful, trustworthy. and political policy framework for action.

We are the non-state actors that call for the urgency and integrity of the process. After the Paris agreement, COP22 went to Marrakesh, COP23 in Bonn for Fiji, COP24 in Katowice, and then in one year went from Rio de Janeiro to Santiago to Madrid. Marrakesh, Fiji, and Katowice were some of the most vulnerable environments and populations.

But COP25 has shown us in new ways the urgency and critical socio-political realities of our times. The politico-corporate exploitation of the Amazon to the urban civil poverty and unrest- that has occurred not only in Brazil and Chile, but in multiple countries – have never impacted the process since the 1999 Seattle WTO protests. How many more failed Arab Springs born of a creeping drought or Opt Out Movements do we have to replay before authority comes to its senses? Wars and violence are reported daily and needing far greater action for peace. There are over 40 active conflicts around the world and many failed states where all people are affected by their daily vulnerability whether they stay or migrate. How do we contribute to the greater sustainability?

Some of the social mechanisms for a peaceful, trustworthy, and political policy framework for action are:

  • Working with advocacy groups and networks to broaden and deepen the message of climate emergency
  • Creating media and social platforms for giving voice to indigenous concerns and broader participation
  • Providing grant programs for community action like the Dedicated Grant Mechanism for Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities with Conservation International
  • Engaging faith communities in their local actions to care for our common home
  • Linking academic studies to the social process of our times
  • Supporting learning programs focused on engagement and skills development
  • Seeking social participation in highlighting local pilot experiences and events
  • Sustaining popular education and lifelong learning founded on cultural and ecological integrity
  • Engaging with national human rights institutions in different countries that highlight community reporting, as in the case of climate change, to strengthen the development of recommendations and legal processes addressing climate
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