Attending #COP27 for me was not about status. It was about finally being able to say that I was part of the conversation, a conversation that comes with a certain level of accountability.
True, more words of action were exchanged than actual action, but the experience was eye-opening because I got to see the inner workings of COP up close and personal. It was an opportunity that showed me that one should not be distracted by the loudest voice or the companies making the most pledges; instead one should ask themselves how many people have I taken the time to listen too?
Don’t Trust, Verify
Although this edition of COP seems to have been more inclusive than previous ones, much work still needs to be done. That being said here are 15 things I took away from my first COP outing.
(1) Pledges and promises need be realistic so they can actually gain traction and help industries take that giant leap forward. The objective should always be to pivot from negotiations to implementation.
(2) When it comes to working together, nowadays there seems to be a thin line between collaborating and colluding. A sobering moment.
(3) At a time where industries are regaining momentum on climate change, the other side of the coin is recognising the epidemic of inability shown by companies when it comes to taking responsibility for people and the planet.
(4) The fashion industry will not change on its own; especially when its primary concern seems to be protecting its profits. This is why legislation needs to step in.
(5) We must keep the pressure on issues like climate change to ensure that they remain a mainstream issue, not just an afterthought.
(6) Great importance must be placed on the voices from the Indigenous people. At COP27 the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change made sure that they where heard. Advocating for their future, the Indigenous people are no longer content to attend as observers or be seen as victims of the impacts of the current development model.
(7) There was a lack of women at negotiations which surprised me.
(8) The inability to change long-term is eroding our ability to handle sustainability matters correctly. We need to find ways of going beyond just taking “appropriate action”.
(9) With no real consequences, some industries are still cultivating the worse of the worse when it comes to green claims, which is why we must fix the entire system, not just patch up the problems with pledges.
(10) Change is not failing to advance; it is just moving at a languid pace.
In the end, the biggest lesson I leant was ‘don’t trust, verify.’ We are no longer at the stage of taking one’s word; we always need to verify all claims. Yes, it is sometimes hard to do so, due to many moving parts, but I do hope that most of the pledges made at COP27 will turn into action because words only mean something if they mature into actual change.