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Indigenous peoples and youth at heart of Anglican engagement with COP26

Posted on: October 28, 2021 12:43 PM
Photo Credit: Annie Spratt

Indigenous peoples and youth, as well as climate resilience and just financing, are priorities for the Anglican Communion at COP26. 

Indigenous peoples and youth, as well as climate resilience and just financing, are at the heart Anglican engagement with the United Nations Climate Change Conference, according to the Anglican Communion’s COP26 Policy Brief. The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) will be hosted by the UK government in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November.

The policy brief, published this week, was written by the Anglican Consultative Council’s COP26 Working Group, whose membership is drawn from the Anglican Communion Environmental Network, Anglican Indigenous Network, Anglican Youth Network, Anglican Alliance, Lambeth Palace and the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations. The Working Group is chaired by the Archbishop of Central America and the Anglican Communion lead archbishop on the environment, Archbishop Julio Murray. 

The policy priorities brought by the Anglican Communion are climate resilience and just financing. The brief says: “Building climate resilience is a necessary, practical, and pragmatic response to build communities’ adaptive capacity to withstand both acute climate shocks and stressors, such as hurricanes or wildfires, and long-term, slow-onset events, such as shrinking water resources and rising sea levels.” It also says that just financing must be a core part of any climate change response as building resilience “requires adequate resourcing” and must “[encompass] policies and initiatives that encourage and expect burden sharing, often whereby high-income countries, with fossil fuel driven economies and wealth derived from extractive industries, ensure that money is flowing (through climate funds or other means) to more vulnerable low-income countries.” 

The policy brief also emphasises that the response to climate change must centre the perspectives of those most impacted – indigenous peoples and youth being among those most heavily affected by the climate crisis. In the opening remarks of the brief, it says: “climate change disproportionately impacts certain populations groups, along the lines of gender, race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status, for example. Identifying the unique experiences of certain groups and centring their needs in our responses is critical to just climate action. In particular, engaging with and supporting the leadership of indigenous people and young people, and particularly women within these groups, must be a cross-cutting consideration.” 

Jillian Abballe, Advocacy Manager and Head of New York Office for the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations, said this about the brief: “It is our hope that this policy paper will support the advocacy of those attending COP26 to bring specific recommendations to decision makers while at the same time emphasising the Church as a critical actor in addressing climate change and the importance of centring the voices and participation of indigenous communities and young people. That said, this brief is also meant to guide advocacy beyond COP26 and to support Anglicans and others around the world in demanding just approaches to resilience building and financing.” 

A delegation of four people drawn from across the Communion will be attending COP26 next week. Archbishop Julio Murray from Panama, Primate of the Anglican Church of Central America; Bernadette Demientieff from Alaska, the Executive Director of the Gwichin Steering Committee; Nicholas Omondi Pande from Kenya and the Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa; and Dr Elizabeth Perry, from the Anglican Alliance. Unfortunately, Bernadette is unable to be physically present in Glasgow, but the rest of the delegation will uplift her advocacy priorities and perspectives during the conference. 

The conference will begin on 1 November and end on 12 November. The Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations will be posting regular updates from COP26 on their Twitter account.