On the way to COP24 in Poland
Youth delegate Helena Funk visits UN Church Center and GreenFaith in New York
(LWI) – Last year, Helena Funk, a youth delegate from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany, attended the Bonn Conference of the Parties (COP23) to the annual United Nations (UN) climate gatherings as part of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) delegation and gained her first experience with such high-level meetings. This year she will be part of the LWF delegation at COP24 in Katowice, Poland, from 2 to 14 December.
To prepare for the forthcoming conference, she took advantage of her study-abroad year in the United States to visit the Lutheran Office for World Community (LOWC) in New York. A joint ministry of the LWF and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), LOWC is the Lutheran representation to the UN headquarters. Funk also visited the interfaith organization GreenFaith.
Tips for advocacy work
At the UN Church Center, which is directly opposite the UN headquarters, she came across Rebekka Pohlmann from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, who was pursuing special ministerial training with the LWF in New York. “The office for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Bonn is made up of experts on climate policy,” Pohlmann discovered.
“At the UN headquarters climate justice is a cross-cutting theme, for example, in debates about migration and security.” She also learned about initiatives of women, who, in many countries are responsible for feeding the family, and now demand not only food security but also food sovereignty. That is consequently a bridging topic to climate policy and relevant to the conference in Poland.
Since the Church Center in New York accommodates many experts on advocacy, Funk picked up valuable tips on ways to approach the next climate conference in Poland and how to work with international members of parliament.
Religions and climate-friendly life-styles
The interfaith organization GreenFaith is committed to opening doors for local action and networks – across the religions. Building on the interfaith statement “Walk on Earth Gently,” presented at COP23 in Bonn, GreenFaith has been conducting global online training over the last few months. This Sustainable Living Leadership Program is the first of its kind, and seeks to enable actors from different religions to take sustainable action at the local level.
I hope that leaders from different religions will work more closely together at COP24 in Poland, and that – besides their efforts in political advocacy – they can help open more doors for local action.
Inspired by this online training, Funk and fellow students from her university staged an interfaith climate dinner. Young people from different parts of the world and with diverse religious backgrounds, were able to exchange how climate justice can be part of different religions. She organized this event in the context of the first “Week of Living the Change” with 100 events on sustainable lifestyles in religious communities in over 24 countries worldwide.
Looking forward to the conference in Katowice, Funk notes: “I hope that leaders from different religions will work more closely together at COP24 in Poland, and that – besides their efforts in political advocacy – they can help open more doors for local action.”
A delegation of young people from the member churches has been representing the LWF at the annual conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change since COP 17 in Durban, South Africa. At COP 24, the seven delegates from each of the seven LWF regions, come with different experiences and expertise in climate action, climate advocacy and theology of creation.