Global Afro Blog: A Change’s Gonna Come — Rise of the Frontlines at COP 27
by Kathy T. Egland, Advisory Board Chair — The Chisholm Legacy Project
Meandering around the massive COP 27 venue looking for the first-ever Climate Justice Pavilion was extremely exhaustive, frustrating and challenging. After searching and encountering endless misdirections in the sweltering heat of COP 27’s Blue Zone in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, we finally came upon the location we had been seeking- the Climate Justice Pavilion, sponsored by Dr. Beverly Wright of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Dr. Robert Bullard of the Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice and Peggy Shepherd of WE ACT for Environmental Justice. It was like we had been walking through the COP 27 desert and had happened upon a mirage. We had finally arrived. But not only to our destination, but to a place of prominence and standing at COP that had previously evaded U.S. Black frontline communities.
Gazing at the impressive standing photos of Dr. Wright, Dr. Bullard and Ms. Shepherd at the pavilion was so indescribably mesmerizing and awe-inspiring that my eyes welled with pride. After sitting down to take in this joyous moment, there was a larger than life size poster of Damu Smith that appeared to be beaming from the rafters! What a fitting tribute to such a deserving humanitarian. He had not been left behind in this stage of our journey within the global framework of environmental and climate justice.
The much buzzed about Climate Justice Pavillion has quickly become the most anticipated and most well-attended event at COP 27. It has been the backdrop for hosting side events and discussions with luminaries such as former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and EPA Administrator Michael Regan. But most of all the Climate Justice Pavillion has been a a much needed refuge for people of color on the frontlines of battling climate impacts- especially within the Black Diaspora. It has also brought a bastion of knowledge and insight into our concerns and our self-determination efforts.
It’s been a long, long time coming but we know a change gonna come because we’re experiencing the rise of the frontlines at the Climate Justice Pavilion at COP27.