“How do we stay motivated when there are negotiations happening in a room full of people who don’t look like me?”
This was the question I asked the panel of Black women who sat on stage before me during a COP27 Climate Justice Pavilion session Tuesday afternoon.
Now I’m not one to be pessimistic or even get discouraged even during the toughest times. In fact, I’m known to be quite optimistic. But something about what I have been experiencing during my time at COP27 has me feeling a bit stuck.
To be quite honest, it feels like there may be two different conferences happening and I just might be at the wrong one. In my perspective, the pavilions are where concerns are being expressed, whereas the negotiations are where decisions are being made. How can decision makers truly make informed decisions when they aren’t even in the same room as their stakeholders? You cannot possibly hear our concerns. You do not want to hear our concerns. This is what has been going through my mind during my time at COP.
So, this is why I posed the above question. And to no surprise, my dear aunties responded with absolute grace.
Our dear sister, you must remain hopeful and we must remain resilient. We have eyes and ears everywhere and our voices shall be heard through mountain tops. You must not give up. You ask about what you should go back and tell your community, you should tell them to not give up, that there is more work to be done, but that we hold power too. We have to look at where we came from, where our ancestors came from, and what they have sacrificed for us to be here. We have come such a long way and we will go further with hope in our eyes and love in our hearts.
So what I gathered from this conversation was that we must remain hopeful in the midst of struggle, in the midst of pain, in the midst of fear.
Hope is how we win. Hope is how we keep progressing. Hope is how we get justice.
Yes, there are negotiations happening a few doors down from us. Yes, it is true that there are very few of us in that room. But we are still there. We do have representation in and outside of those rooms. For the very first time since the beginning of COP we have a Climate Justice Pavillion. We have our voices and most importantly, we have each other. We need each other, and each other is how we win.
Diamond Spratling, MPH is an impact-driven environmental justice activist and non-profit leader motivated to dismantle health, racial, and environmental inequities in Black and Brown communities. She built the national nonprofit, Girl Plus Environment, in order to empower more Black and Brown girls, women, and non-binary folx to stand up for environmental justice in their own neighborhoods.
The Detroit native and 2x TEDx speaker has spent more than six years at the intersection of environmental justice and health equity. Her strong dedication to the sector has earned her the William H. Sterner Memorial Award (2017) as well as the Elmore Manufacturing Award (2018).
Ms. Spratling has supported many environmental and health initiatives for cities and organizations across the globe such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Bloomberg Associates, WaterAid Cambodia, Climate Advocacy Lab, City of Atlanta, and Greenlink Analytics.
Diamond is one of Climate Generation’s Window Into COP delegates for COP27. To learn more, we encourage you to meet the full delegation and subscribe to the Window Into COP digest. You can support our delegates at COP27 with a financial gift today!