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This year’s COP27 comes with a lot of criticism and scrutiny; however, one key takeaway should be the prioritization of honesty. We need to be honest about the current state of our climate, including our progress and inclusivity; we must admit that we are nowhere near close to solving climate change. In the spirit of honesty, I want to have an open conversation about COP27 and the state of the climate crisis.

We need to acknowledge that COP27 is occurring at a time in which the world is faced with geopolitical tensions, war, an economic recession, and how this may affect its outcomes. This means more than ever that we cannot backslide on our progress; the private sector is becoming increasingly more involved in the climate crisis, currently developing innovative technology is a major pathway for a sustainable future, and cross-sector collaboration is being utilized to prevent and defeat the effects of climate change. Not backsliding also means delivering on existing commitments; representatives must not simply attend the conference but be actively engaged. This COP is undoubtedly different from COP27 in regards to location and focus however, there is one main difference that I believe sets an important precedent for the development and monitoring of our climate. 

COP7 is being referred to as an “implementation COP” and is dedicating time to follow up on existing commitments and action plans. A main takeaway from COP27 is the need for tangible action points and measurable standards for climate solutions and systems to ensure this process is efficient. I applaud COP27 for calling to attention that not every conference can solely focus on the big picture and instead must also focus on checking in and making sure we are on the right track. If we don’t, who will? 

Climate change threatens the basic human right to a healthy environment; all voices deserve to be heard as all voices are affected by climate change. Being actively engaged in the fight against climate change should not be a privilege; it is unacceptable to silence the voices of climate activists and inhibit the participation from certain societal groups at the conference. For all future COPs, climate change and human rights are not mutually exclusive and all identities must be represented. 

Inclusivity and representation must be at the forefront of all climate solutions, specifically regarding vulnerable communities and gender equality. Environmental solutions must have representation from all sectors, genders, ethnicities, and communities. That being said, financial environmental plans, mitigation measures, and adaptation projects must fundamentally prioritize vulnerable communities. Financial plans must benefit society from the bottom up and more money needs to be allocated to fight climate change using a comprehensive approach; moreover, financial systems need to focus on the triple bottom line and prioritize the wellbeing of people and the planet. It is imperative that COP27 concludes with initiatives for a more inclusive, sustainable society. 

The truth about climate change is that finding solutions is a continuous process; one individual cannot do it alone. The current dialogue surrounding climate should not be negative and instead be inclusive, innovative, and inspiring. Yes, we have made progress in our improved usage of cross-sector collaboration, innovation, and private sector involvement; however, there is always room for growth. Our collective journey to solving the climate crisis is just beginning.