In her opening words to the COP17 this morning Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) quoted Nelson Mandela, “It always seems impossible until it is done.”
Based on news reports from Canada today Figueres may have been speaking directly to us when she went on to say: “This Conference needs to assure the vulnerable that action is being taken for the future, for both climate change mitigation and adaptation. You need to assure the world.”
The news from home was discouraging, and so it was very good to sit with Dr. Jesse Mugambi during the Official Opening this morning.
Jesse is a university professor in Kenya and a former visiting professor at Emmanuel College in Toronto. He knows The United Church of Canada well. He has also been very involved with climate mitigation efforts through the World Council of Churches and has been coming to these UN meetings for many years.
I asked him “Why do you keep coming to these meetings?” and Jesse answered, “Because the Gospel is about hope. It is not about despair.”
Christiana Figueres ended her opening comments with a Zulu phrase that sounded to me like: Sukuma Zakhe. The African woman sitting on the other side of me leaned over to translate, “Get up and develop yourself!” I couldn’t help but wonder if she knew I was Canadian.
More Canadian blogs and a photo quiz
I’ve been joined here by some fine Canadian bloggers:
Kaitlin Bardswich of the United Church of Canada who is here for the Youth for Eco-Justice Program, a transformational training program for young Christians aged 18-30 years. This program addresses the links between environmental and socio-economic justice, and is jointly organized by the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation in the context of UN climate negotiations. Kaitlin was with other young adults at yesterday’s interfaith rally and accompanied me as I spoke with other faith leaders and political leaders including Ireland’s Mary Robinson.
Her blog, Exploring Eco-Justice [http://kaitlinindurban.wordpress.com/] has an entry called Interfaith Rally in Durban with photos from yesterday: http://kaitlinindurban.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/interfaith-rally-in-durban/. See if you can spot me in the photo called “Faith leaders enter the stadium.”
Willard Metzger, General Secretary of the Mennonite Church Canada also began blogging here today: http://willardmetzger.blogspot.com/
And check out blogs by Jim Davis, KAIROS Africa partnerships coordinator, and Caroline Foster, KAIROS Young Adult and Networks Coordinator, both blogging from Durban and John Dillon, also of KAIROS Canada, blogging from Toronto: http://kairoscanada.org/blogs/
Alanna Mitchell, the author of “Sea Sick: The Hidden Crisis in the Global Ocean” and a member of Eastminster United Church, will arrive here in a couple of days. She has already begun blogging for the Observer. Read her at: http://www.ucobserver.org/durban_2011/2011/11/durban/