Friday, November 11, 2022

Musings from Priyadarshini Karve: #COP27: Day 4

 #COP27: Day 4

Organising a COP is a huge undertaking for any city and the host country. Tens of thousands of people would be descending on the city over a period of two weeks. There are protocols that need to be followed for heads of states from across the world, as well as their ministers and negotiators. The NGOs and research organisations and businesses that send their delegates are also increasing day by day. Egypt and Sherm al Sheikh have not done a great job with the logistics of the conference unfortunately, but more about this in a later blog! 

Typically, COP tends to take over a city and does not remain limited to the conference venue. There are a number of side events that happen at other venues across the city. There are also a few marches and processions that take the COP to the streets of the city. 

We keep on getting notifications of events happening outside the COP venue but one of those drew our attention due to its unique venue and title. This event was organised by an organisation named 'SISU' and was called Ancient Futures. It was to be held at the Sherm al Sheikh Museum in the evening. So, we decided to look in on it. 

The museum is an imposing building, but we did not go inside it. The event was held on an open terrace outside. The seating arrangement had a few chairs and a few mattresses and pillows. There was some food and beverages on offer for the attendees. 

The event was focused around listening to the voices of women from indigenous communities. We managed to catch the main component of the function which was going to go on for 4 hr. 

The speakers were three indigenous women from South America and Africa. They spoke very eloquently about the relationship of the indigenous people with the earth and specifically about the role of women of the community - which used to be more decisive and equal than modern communities. 

Ancient Futures Event

The argument made by the 'King' (she called herself the king while everyone else referred to her as queen... If one thinks of 'king' as a gender-neutral word for the main leader, her usage of the word was correct - somewhat similar to 'Rashtrapati' in the Indian context.) of a tribe from Africa was interesting. Referring to the history of humanity she asked - aren't we all indigenous people of Africa? Why should we make this distinction between 'indigenous' peoples and others merely on the basis of differences in ways of life? 

The lady from Brazil was recently elected to the Parliament and was a supporter of the newly elected leftist president Lulla. She explained that this time the indigenous communities strategically participated in the elections and took a lot of efforts to get the indigenous people to come out and vote. As a result, the number of elected representatives from the indigenous communities has gone up in the new parliament and hopefully that will help in addressing some of the commercial threats faced by the tribes in the Amazon forests. 

Apart from this the overall tone of the conversation was the usual spiel on how the earth is suffering because the women are suffering etc. 

The issues of gender equality are indeed an important socio-politico-economic challenge. It is not limited to indigenous communities but is far more universal, but yes, the disenfranchisement of indigenous women is far graver and devastating than that of women in the so-called modern societies. Environmental challenges in general and climate change impacts in particular also add to gender inequality. But I fail to understand why people need to respond to these realities from a place of 'emotions' than a place of 'rationality'. I also visited a booth by a US based university, and they are doing a project with young people across the world to help them relate to climate change with their 'hearts'. 

I have always felt that an accurate understanding of the science is a better way to get the heart involved in solving the large complex challenges that we face today. An understanding of the mitochondrial DNA that links all humans to a single ancestral woman that lived in Africa about 500,000 years ago is a more powerful argument for the kinship and therefore equality of all humans than any emotional appeal to the sense of justice and equality. Understanding the intricate feedback loops and connections between the earth's geological, climatic, and biological systems is essential to understanding the importance of maintaining these systems in their current forms for the survival of our species rather than calling the planet 'mother earth' and ourselves its 'protectors' and 'stewards'. 

The solution to climate change will of course need a wide variety of people to be involved in the fight and different things may motivate different people. But it is concerning to me that modern science is often looked upon as a villain as it is perceived as the trigger for the industrial revolution that heralded climate change. But the same industrial revolution also heralded the communication systems that allow us to connect with all humans across the world. The same industrial revolution also helped us overcome many deadly diseases and increased the average life span of humans. 

Solving climate change is not just about going back to the traditional ways of life because the climatic conditions that exist today have not been experienced by humans at all. The solution to climate change will come through a blending of traditional wisdom and modern scientific thinking. The proponents of both should respect and work with each other rather than looking down upon each other.  

Priyadarshini Karve
Director, Samuchit Enviro Tech
Convener, Indian Network on Ethics and Climate Change (INECC)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for live update