“If you could stop the next tornado from hitting your home,
the next hurricane from wiping out your city,
the next drought from starving your people,
the next lightning strike from ending your life
As the UN’s COP 26 climate summit ends, I want to share some words from the raw and very personal poem performed by Sudanese-American poet Emtithal Mahmoud at the event in Glasgow.
Through her poem, Emtithal (known as ‘Emi’), called out to the world for action to include communities on the front line of the climate emergency in all possible efforts to combat climate change.
A former refugee herself, Emi wrote the poem Di Baladna after speaking with refugees in Jordan, Bangladesh and Cameroon.
Her goal was to ensure their voices – and those of the millions of other displaced and vulnerable people globally – were heard during the important global discussions.
Voices from climate-vulnerable ‘hotspots’ such as Zimbabwe, Afghanistan and the Pacific Islands, where Act for Peace is already working with partners and communities to help them adapt and grow resilience to the impacts of extreme weather events, like droughts, floods and landslides.
Twelve years ago, at another UN summit, wealthy nations made a pledge to provide less wealthy nations with US $100 billion a year by 2020, to help them adapt to climate change and mitigate further rises in temperature.
In their annual Adaptation Gap Report, UN officials flagged that this pledge has not been delivered, and that nations most vulnerable to climate change need five to ten times more funding to cope with escalating damage.
While 12 governments (not including Australia) pledged US $413 million in new funding to the Least Developed Countries Fund at COP 26, the world’s leaders have again fallen short on helping those people already being harmed by global heating.
The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, also warned that promises to reduce emissions will “ring hollow” while governments continue to invest in fossil fuels. The goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 C is, in his blunt words, on “life support”.
As we continue to analyse the outcomes of COP 26, Act for Peace is more dedicated than ever to partnering with and supporting communities on the front line of the climate crisis, who are leading the way in terms of innovating to find successful solutions.
However, more international support, from governments and the private sector, is the only way we’ll mitigate this crisis together.
I want to leave you with the hope instilled by these words from Emi:
“The locusts in the Horn of Africa,
the floods of South Sudan,
the ice in Chicago,
the fires in California, Australia.
The threat of rain that won’t stop
or rest, that won’t come.
We are at the precipice of possible change
A turning point that can and will defines us.”
Words by Emma – Act for Peace team