COP26: will it inspire the change we need?
Women’s Environmental Network acts to achieve equality, justice and joy at the point where gender and environmental issues meet. We worked with them this year on brand architecture, campaign identities and toolkits, as well as support with their COP26 exhibition. Kate Metcalf, Co-Director from Women’s Environmental Network share’s her experiences here:
Can you tell us about your experiences at COP26?
Wen (Women’s Environmental Network) supported four women’s and community groups from across the UK working with marginalised women to come to COP26 as part of our Feminist Green New Deal joint project with the Women’s Budget Group and our Climate Sisters project. These were: Support and Action for Women’s Network (SAWN) from Greater Manchester, Communities Engage & Thrive from Birmingham, Leaders in Community (LIC) from East London, Glasgow Climate Sisters coordinated by Wen Adviser, Zarina Ahmad. The Climate Sisters SAWN and Glasgow groups developed their own creative pieces to convey their thoughts, feelings and ideas for tackling the climate crisis.
Wen had a stand in the Green Zone (where all the civil society organisations were. The main negotiations were held in the Blue Zone) at COP26 where we showcased our Feminist Green New Deal project asking people for their feminist visions for a green, safe and fair world. The four Climate Sisters groups listed above joined us in the Green Zone. We also held a Feminist Green New Deal fringe event on the 4th November in Glasgow asking ‘Why do we need a Feminist Approach to the Climate Crisis? featuring a panel of distinguished speakers, performances and exhibits from the Climate Sisters SAWN and Glasgow projects.
Wen joined the Global March on Saturday 6th November as part of the Women & Gender Constituency (official partners of the UNFCC) where we amplified a joint message around Feminist Climate Justice working in solidarity with women’s and feminist organisations from the Global South and Global North. This was an uplifting experience marching and singing together with all these wonderful people. One of our favourite songs was:
“The people gonna rise like the water
We’re gonna face this crisis now
I hear the voice of my great granddaughter
Saying “Climate Justice Now!”
Climate Sisters Conference at COP26
We also organised a Climate Sisters Conference at COP showcasing the creative pieces created by the Climate Sisters SAWN and the Glasgow Climate Sisters including: the Dorothy Duvet performance, two short films, recycled plastic jewellery, a sculpture, a sustainably sourced and made dress, podcasts, an e-waste photo exhibition, ‘The World is on Fire’ song and poetry. Three of the Climate Sisters’ projects were featured on BBC Scotland, the are plans to exhibit the creative pieces in other locations in the future.
Do you think it will have an impact?
I hope that it will have an impact in helping to amplify marginalised women’s voices and priorities for climate action and for policy makers to listen. This is a marathon, though, not a sprint, but rest assured that we have the stamina to keep going! The collective power of women is a force to be reckoned with. More and more people are realising that when the problems are man-made that the solutions are feminist as Mary Robinson so aptly pointed out.
How did you engage the audience?
At our Green Zone stand we invited people to share their feminist visions for a green, safe and caring world. We then shared these on social media and encouraged people to post their ideas in order to create more dialogue about this. We also displayed people’s vision cards on our stand. We plan to continue to use these vision cards at future Wen events and on social media. The idea is to show that a green, safe and caring world is a better world. If you can imagine it then it’s easy to make it a reality.
My vision for a green, caring and safe world is… A world with justice and socio-environmental rights, where we care more about life and less about money.
Sphera are a product innovation organisation that use forward-thinking technology to create sustainable materials for the construction industry. Sail worked with Sphera this year on a rebrand including naming, strategy and visual identity. Natasha Boulding, CEO, was on a significant panel ‘Countdown to Planet Zero Combating Climate Change with Chemistry’, and shares her thoughts here:
What was your experience of COP 26?
It was a global platform, in which we could showcase our mission; which as a start up is significant. We were thrilled to have a place on the SCI panel alongside young scientists and the next generation of change makers.
Our debate was focused around the fact 60% of young people are concerned about climate change, and each young panellist discussed what solutions are being developed.
Sphera’s take was that we need to think more about reusing materials to waste less. Burning waste is one of the most polluting ways to generate energy, and we are not talking about this enough. Waste needs a second life, it can be used it to create products that are valuable. Sphera exists to do just this, currently we are developing materials for the construction industry that are greener, more sustainable and better for the economy; bringing solutions to reuse problematic waste. Everything we do is about lowering carbon footprint and finding solutions to avoid problematic wastage.
Do you think COP will have the required impact?
Every climate change event raises awareness – COP26 did exactly that. It inspires future generations who will no doubt put lots of energy and future thinking into developing people-focussed and also technological solutions. The more people that are aware of climate change – the more change is going to happen.
Which talk were you really inspired by?
Mia Motely, the leader of Barbados did a very powerful, authentic speech on collective and diverse action – not just Western solutions, but social mobilisation for every country. Definitely worth a watch!
The Religious leader debate was also fascinating and points were raised that I had never really considered before. This included 5 leaders across 5 religions – 80 percent of the population belong to one of these religions. If trusted leaders/community members can share their thoughts on climate change and encourage local communities to take action-that will have a significant impact.