Why diversity matters at COP26
I’m Sunita Ramani, and I work at Greenhouse, a specialist green communications agency focused on delivering positive social and environmental impact. I found Greenhouse through Creative Access in November 2020 when I was hired as a Trainee Administrative Assistant, and I have since progressed to Senior Account Executive, opening up a whole range of opportunities – including most recently, being involved in several exciting initiatives around the COP26 climate conference.
Why does diversity matter at COP26?
This summit is significant for all of us – the future of our planet rests on the commitments being made in Glasgow at this very moment, and the steps that world leaders take to meet them. But as with any global disaster (the Covid19 pandemic being a prime example), not everyone is equally affected, and people of colour worldwide are suffering some of the worst impacts of the climate crisis, despite contributing the least to its causes.
I’ve come away from Glasgow reminded of how essential it is that people of colour bring our voices, perspectives and stories to every aspect of environmental justice work, from campaigning on the frontlines to re-telling the stories of our communities behind the scenes.
How communications can help to achieve climate justice
For me, getting to work with organisations fighting for climate justice is what I love most about my work at Greenhouse. In the lead up to COP26, I supported the international charity ActionAid with their EarthWalk campaign which highlighted the unequal representation at the climate conference. In particular, many invitees from the Global South have missed out on attending the negotiations due to vaccine inequalities or a lack of funding.
By supporting ActionAid with their PR and digital communications, we encouraged thousands of people across the world to take part in EarthWalk, collectively marching over 43,000km to call on world leaders to Step Up for Climate Justice. On the third day of the summit, ActionAid projected videos from people across the world taking part in the campaign in central Glasgow, as a way to bring their voices to COP26 and remind negotiators of their duty to listen to those on the front lines of the crisis.
I have also been supporting the work of the Just Rural Transition, an initiative bringing together food producers, governments, businesses, civil society, rural and Indigenous peoples to champion people-centered solutions to our food and land-use crises. Providing nutritious, affordable food for a growing population in a way which is both just and sustainable is an enormous challenge, and it is essential that we centre the food producers and rural communities who hold the knowledge and experience to tackle these issues.
By amplifying the JRT’s messages through PR and social media during COP26, we’re helping to increase awareness and understanding of a ‘just rural transition’ and ensure it is on the agenda as world leaders discuss how to transform our food systems for the better.
Going to Glasgow
Whilst I’ve been able to do all my work remotely, COP26 being only a train ride away is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I decided to head up to Glasgow over the weekend for the Global Day of Action – a day for people everywhere to come together in support of climate justice, and to centre marginalised voices who have largely been excluded from the official negotiations.
Marching on the streets alongside nearly 100,000 people, and hearing the firsthand stories of those who have experienced the devastating realities of the climate crisis were a powerful reminder of why it is so important to do this work. At the rally on Glasgow Green, I listened to Indigenous leaders, trade unionists, and activists from the Global South all describing their fears for their future, and calling on us to unite and stand with them in demanding a better one.
I’ve come away from Glasgow reminded of how essential it is that people of colour bring our voices, perspectives and stories to every aspect of environmental justice work, from campaigning on the frontlines to re-telling the stories of our communities behind the scenes. Each one of us is needed in the fight for a better planet, as there is no climate action without climate justice.
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