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by Rabia Abrar

COP26, the UN Global Climate Summit, was originally meant to have taken place in Glasgow starting this Monday – but it was delayed until next year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the event has been delayed, the urgency to address the climate crisis remains the same.

‘Unusual suspects’, as some may view them, have taken leadership on pushing the agenda of the urgently needed, transformational climate action, with or without a conference.

Youth Leading the Way

Frustrated by the fact that no innovative way could be found to hold the COP26 summit online, young climate activists have organised their own two-week “Mock COP”, which starts this week (November 19). The conference is designed to mirror the format of the delayed U.N. talks, but with youth from more than 140 nations as the negotiators. The online summit will focus on themes including climate education, carbon targets, climate justice, health and green jobs. A large emphasis is about moving past simply discussing change, to exploring how to implement solutions.

Youth organisers of the Mock COP aim to, in part, change views of what young activists are capable of doing, rather than being perceived as little more than an inspiration for older officials.

“People will have seen that … we can do more than just strike and protest”

Josh Tregale, 18, Britain

But youth want more than to change perceptions; more crucially, they want a seat at the (economic decision-making) table. This thinking is in line with key components of a Wellbeing Economy, which would put humans at the centre of economic purpose: intergenerational justice and participation of ‘the people’ in economic decision making. 

“Young people will pay the tax to pay off the (economic stimulus and climate) decisions we make now. It’s effectively our money they’re spending at the moment… (and) young people should have a voice, especially at this time.”

Josh Tregale, 18, Britain

While youth are making their voices heard, so are artists. 

Calling all Musicians (to Action)

A group of Scottish artists at all levels, including multi-award winning musician Karine Polwart and Edinburgh’s Soundhouse Choir, has released a song called, Enough is Enough.

If our planet Earth could talk to us right now, what might she say?

The song covers themes of environmental justice and collective wellbeing and draws on the imagery of Glasgow’s coat of arms (a tree, a bird, a fish and a bell).

Spearheaded by Oi Musica, an independent artist-led music organisation in Edinburgh, the project aims to unite choirs, street bands and community-based music groups across the UK in a collective, creative action ahead of next year’s COP26. The aim is to raise awareness and build public pressure in the lead up to the climate summit in Glasgow in 2021. 

Brass, Aye? – an open access street band in Glasgow. Photo credit: Heather Longwell

“We’re excited about creating a shared focus for bands, choirs & musicians at a difficult time for live music – and finding positive, creative ways of raising our voices in support of climate justice and systems change”. 

Olivia Furness, Oi Musica Co-Director 

WEAll is a partner in this collaboration, sharing its vision of a future economy that rejects eternal economic growth and instead, focuses on delivering social justice on a healthy planet. 

No Need for Delay 

A restriction to virtual meetings during COVID-19 hasn’t held the musical collaboration back. To assess the song’s potential for mass participation, Enough is Enough was road tested with 120 singers, who filmed and recorded their parts on mobile phones. This process added a whopping 1500 recorded files to the studio recording! 

The Edinburgh Soundhouse Choir in the ‘Enough is Enough’ music video

Pandemic restrictions continue to impact the working life of musicians; and the digital skills that are being acquired as a result of this collaboration are strengthening connections between people and communities through tough times. 

The song, ‘Enough is Enough’, and the process by which it has been created, exemplifies the role WEAll envisions the Arts to play in a Wellbeing Economy, which includes the Arts helping to tell the story and paint the picture of a more humane economy.

As Dom Jaramillo, a 21-year-old Ecuadorian delegate to Mock COP put it,

“Everyone says we’re the leaders of the future… I find myself leading things in the present.” 

We can take the lead of the youth and musicians who are not waiting for a more convenient time to collaborate around tackling the climate crisis. 

COP26 may be delayed. Transformational climate action needn’t be. 

Find out more about the Mock COP26 conference, running from November 19 – December 1, here. Donate to the Mock COP26 Crowdfunder campaign and join the conversation on Twitter: @MockCOP26, Instagram: @mockcop26 and Facebook: @MockCOP26.

Listen to ‘Enough is Enough’, here, and register your interest to join the musical collaboration around ‘Enough is Enough’, here. You can follow along on Twitter: @Oi_Musica, @IAMKP; Instagram: @oi.musica , @karinepolwart; and Facebook@oimusica; @soundhousechoir; @karinepolwart.

Earlier this month, the WEGo partnership was featured in the 2020 edition of WWF’s Nature In All Goals publication, which outlines how we can restore our relationship with nature to realise the promise of the SDGs and Leave No One Behind.

Individually, the 17 SDGs define key areas of progress for humanity. Delivered together, they will transform the world and create prosperity for all on a healthy planet.

The publication gives inspirational examples of where each of the 17 SDGs have been put into practice – ranging from Supporting Conserved by Indigenous Peoples and Communities in Myanmar to Renewable energy solutions for better health and energy security in Karachi, Pakistan.

In WEAll’s article, we discussed how to shift toward a Sustainable and Just economy – one that promotes wellbeing for all. 

Action on the SDGs in the next ten years is not possible without a fundamental transformation of our economic system.

In order to do this, WEAll’s membership has developed the 5 priorities a wellbeing economy should deliver on.

‘We All Need’:

  1. Dignity: Everyone has enough to live in comfort, safety and happiness
  2. Nature: A restored and safe natural world for all life
  3. Connection: A sense of belonging and institutions that serve the common good
  4. Fairness: Justice in all its dimensions at the heart of economic systems, and the gap between the richest and poorest greatly reduced
  5. Participation: Citizens actively engaged in their communities and locally rooted economies.

These principles guide the work of the Wellbeing Economy Governments (WEGo) partnership.

WEGo member states have achieve great successes in mainstreaming social equity and ecological restoration – in line with the SDGs:

Read all of the inspiring examples of the shift toward a wellbeing economy in the WWF’s Nature In All Goals publication, here.

Our WEAll member, the Post Growth Institute, recently shared a fantastic article on how we can reprogram our economic operating system to ensure a sustainable future – by adopting an indigenous worldview.

The United Nations estimates that indigenous territories cover approximately 20 percent of the Earth’s landmass. This 20 percent landmass stewarded by indigenous peoples amazingly contains 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity.

The indigenous worldview has been marginalised for generations because it was seen as antiquated and unscientific and its ethics of respect for Mother Earth were in conflict with the Industrial worldview … But now, in this time of climate change and massive loss of biodiversity we understand that the indigenous worldview is neither unscientific nor antiquated, but is, in fact, a source of wisdom that we urgently need.

As the article explains, we can adjust or un-choose. Read about the two adjustments in our worldview that can help us work toward a more sustainable economy – and world.