C O P 2 6
So many bodies and dreams in the same place in a chaotic rush. Now that everything has ended, I know it was pain and despair, or was it anger that kept us going? We were a human river approaching the entrance of the blue zone, hopeful that our voices would transform decision-makers' mindsets.
It was cold, so cold. Our feet hurt because of the long waiting; we didn't care. We evoked the faces of our people at home, each of them threatened by nature's violent and unpredictable response.
What have we done?
What have they done?
The waiting was full of sounds coming from the heart of Ghana, the Amazon rainforest, the countryside of China, Inuit ceremonies, and the cold rocks of the Patagonian fjords. But many were missing. We wanted to echo the missing voices, the invisible to many, the absence of colours, and those stuck at their homes but still, screaming for climate justice.
It has been nine days since the UN Climate Change Conference concluded. I wish I could fill these paragraphs with relief sentences, announcing that COP26 finally triggered the transformation our planet is urging us to make. But all I have left is faith, a kind of faith which I had never experienced before. It came from the youth reverberating courageous songs on the streets of Glasgow to awaken the indifferent. It grew with their bold protests inside negotiations rooms and inspiring speeches from female activists in intimidating rooms full of ministers, parties and businessmen. Young scientists filled the pavilions with enlightening enthusiasm and fresh knowledge, and indigenous communities made us very clear that science existed before us. Their great-grandmothers already knew about the symbiotic relationship between fungi and the roots of trees; they knew about the language of forests long before we published it in peer-reviewed journals. We were invited to write about the science behind glaciers, the oceans, plants and mountains by their side.
Now that I've materialized my memories on this blank sheet, I've realized that it wasn't pain, despair, or anger; but an epidemic of hope that kept us awakened, fearless, empathic, focused, bold, persistent, thoughtful, loving.
COP26 opened my eyes. Now I can see that we, the millions, are never stepping back to fight for life. Not a single step back.