The voices of those most affected by the climate crisis must be heard at COP26

27 October 2021

Paolo stands in front of a hillside dotted with houses

Young people in Lima, Peru, face many challenges including access to clean water.

Ahead of COP26, we spoke to Ramiro and Jaime from CAFOD's Peruvian partner DESCO on how those in the Global South have felt excluded from previous climate summits - and why their voices must be heard now more than ever.

We must ensure that the voices of those most impacted by the climate crisis are heard loud and clear at COP26. That’s why the Catholic community in England and Wales has been campaigning tirelessly this year on issues affecting people across the globe. On 18 October a CAFOD petition signed by over 10,000 supporters was handed in to Downing Street by faith leaders, and campaigners have held meetings with their MPS in more than 100 constituencies.

In Latin America and across the Global South, local communities are being affected by the climate crisis every day. They lack basic services such as clean water to drink, wash and cook with. Ramiro and Jaime, from our Peruvian partner DESCO, meet people facing these problems every day.

Ways to get involved during COP26

Building a culture of encounter

Jaime “The relationships we have established allow us to build bridges between communities and the state to raise awareness of the main problems.”

Jaime, from CAFOD's Peruvian partner DESCO

In the past, Ramiro and Jaime have been critical of the COP process. The people most affected by climate change have not been represented at important events, they say, with negotiations focused only on government and commercial interests.

Although unable to travel in person to the COP this time due to restrictions around the pandemic and the ensuing extremely high costs, Ramiro and Jaime stress how important it is for local communities like those they work with in Lima to be heard.

“The voice of the people, in this case of people and families who are impoverished by the economic model we have, must reach the world's leaders, and their concerns must be incorporated into global debates.

“We are not talking about ‘problems’, we are talking about suffering, people living on a few litres of water a day, having to ration as if they were already living in situations of scarcity or disaster. This suffering is already being experienced on the fringes of cities and has been exacerbated by the pandemic. We need that suffering and those voices to reach those debates directly, not through intermediaries.”

Jaime highlights the example in Peru of young people living in areas of extreme poverty alongside university students from wealthier neighbourhoods, where spaces have been created for people to meet and understand the problems each other faces in person.

“The relationships we have established allow us to build bridges between communities and the state to raise awareness of the main problems,” Jaime says.

Take action with CAFOD during COP26

“We need climate justice”

Ramiro “The greatest production of CO2 comes from industrialised countries, yet we are the countries that are going to be most affected."

Ramiro, from CAFOD's Peruvian partner DESCO

Ramiro stresses that existing commitments by industrialised nations must be met at COP26.

“The greatest production of CO2 comes from industrialised countries, yet we are the countries that are going to be most affected. What happens on this side of the world will have consequences for everyone.

“We need climate justice and the human right to adequate housing to stop being a slogan for these events. They must become concrete measures.”

Jaime and Ramiro encourage everyone to get involved in the COP26 Day of Action on 6 November - whether in cities, in groups, or with family or friends - to take a stand on this crisis that affects us all.

“We believe that something has to be done, and we will meet to build local and global relationships and strategies and to learn from each other. Our basic premise is that together we will be stronger.”

The time is now.

Join us for the COP26 Day of Action

About DESCO

Since it was established in 1965, DESCO has promoted social development, strengthened local leadership and sought to influence public policy on the environmental problems that affect many families in Lima and in large cities across Latin America and the world. They aim to improve the quality of life of people who are affected by the climate crisis.

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