November 6 to 18, Grassroots staff joined social movement partners, allies, and others from across the globe for the COP27 UN climate summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. Peasant, Indigenous, and feminist movements challenged false solutions and greenwashing at the conference while offering up real solutions coming from those most impacted by the climate crisis. The COP also served as a vital point of convergence and movement-building for movements from around the world, particularly the African and Middle Eastern regions.
Social movements had not converged at COP under any illusion that the official outcomes would lead to the transformative change so urgently needed for people and the planet.
Grassroots International was there at COP in several capacities. We accompanied the delegations of movement partners whose participation at COP we had funded (including those from Palestine, Brazil, and the US), and we connected and collaborated with a host of other partners and allies on communications, advocacy, relationship building, and more.
Social movements had not converged at COP under any illusion that the official outcomes would lead to the transformative change so urgently needed for people and the planet. A look back at COP’s sorry track record thus far would easily dispel such optimism. Expectations were especially measured this year, given the hostility of Egypt’s repressive el-Sisi regime toward activism of any sort.
As Chief Ninawa of our grantee ally FEPHAC representing the Huni Kui people of Brazil put it, “For Indigenous leaders, the COP represents a space of struggle like other spaces with all the complexities and contradictions that it carries, including the COP being in Egypt, where environmental activism is criminalized – something that is also happening in Brazil.”
As expected, the outcomes of COP were largely business as usual, with the possible exception of the establishment of a loss and damage fund to assist countries of the Global South hardest hit by climate change. Nnimmo Bassey of our grantee ally HOMEF of Nigeria describes the decision on the loss and damage fund as “the shining light of COP27” but is also real about the many challenges to its effective and just implementation. And Nnimmo, along with basically every other activist at COP, points out COP’s failure – yet again – to yield desperately needed action on the phase-out of fossil fuels.
Fortunately for the planet, social movements are not waiting for governments to act. According to Chief Ninawa: “Previous COPs have identified goals and objectives to reduce emissions, but the real decarbonization work will take place at the local level, through a genuine process profoundly changing our relationship with Mother Earth and ourselves.”
This is precisely what our partners, and countless other movements across the world, with bases numbering in the millions, are working toward, in an inspiring diversity of ways. Crucially, COP served as a venue for them not only to insert their voices into the official proceedings, but to connect with one another, exchange ideas, deepen relationships, and sharpen collective analysis on what climate justice means and looks like, and how to get there. Furthermore, COP’s location in Egypt, in a region hard hit by endless wars and occupation by the US and other military powers, was a chance for movements to shine light on the military-industrial complex and its deep ties with the climate crisis, and to strategize on tackling both together.
Below, see powerful photos and read the insightful words of global climate activists on the ground at COP27.
Further reading on COP27:
- Frontline Leaders Decry Lack of Progress for Real Climate Justice at COP27 and Call for Further Action to Protect Millions of Lives (It Takes Roots)
- La Vía Campesina brings a vision for food system change to COP27
- Promoting Food Sovereignty and Climate Justice from outside and within #COP27 (La Vía Campesina)
- Confronting Militarization in Climate Change Politics: No War, No Warming! (La Vía Campesina)
- COP27 : Peasant and environmental movement leaders demand peoples’ solutions to the climate crisis (La Vía Campesina)
- Oil Change International experts respond to COP27: Lack of progress on fossil fuels mars key steps on loss and damage
- COP27 outcome: Loss and damage fund established in historic first step, but other outcomes perilously weak (Friends of the Earth International)
- COP27, the Loss and the Damage at Injury Time (Nnimmo Bassey)