Sowing Seeds of Hope at COP26

In Environment and Climate Justice by SGI OUNA

From 31 October to 13 November, Soka Gakkai International (SGI) actively observed the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, more commonly referred to as COP26, following the process from a human rights, youth empowerment and interfaith perspective. As part of the Interfaith Liaison Committee (ILC), SGI co-organized an informal interfaith gathering in the spirit of Talanoa Dialogue, which gathered more than 200 participants who shared their initiatives, concerns and hopes in their work for climate justice. The outcomes of this event resulted in a Talanoa Dialogue Call that was shared by ILC representatives to Ovais Sarmad, UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Deputy Executive Secretary.  

As part of the Education, Communication and Outreach Stakeholders (ECOS) community and as part of the Working Group on Human Rights and Climate Change, representatives of SGI also actively engaged in the negotiations on the new Glasgow work program for Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE), which focuses on various aspects that relate to education and peoples’ rights to participate and access information. 

During the first week of COP26, SGI-UK and the Centre for Applied Buddhism (CfAB) created a series of events under the theme of “Sowing Seeds of Hope – Action for Climate Justice.” As part of this series of events, SGI launched the Seeds of Hope and Action Exhibition at Websters Theatre in Glasgow. Elizabeth Wathuti, founder of the Green Generation Initiative of Kenya, the Head of Campaigns and Daima Consortium Coordinator at Wangari Maathai Foundation, and the Global South Co-Chair of the COP26 Civil Society and Youth Advisory Council, spoke at the launch and stressed when we really love nature it is natural to take action to protect it. 

Such activities and outcomes were the culmination of ongoing engagements by various stakeholders in the last several years, building up to the conference. For instance, as part of the ILC, Alexandra Masako Goossens-Ishii of SGI supported two webinars in two different time zones on inspired faith action towards COP26 on 27 September. Building on the previous ILC webinar series towards COP26, these webinars aimed to (1) inspire local action until the start of COP26 and (2) share information on the content and needed outcomes of COP26. Speakers included representatives from Interfaith Glasgow and Interfaith Scotland, from Faith for the Climate and the Make COP Count coalition, and from various regions in the world, including the Amazon, South Africa, Australia and the Philippines.