COP23, the annual United Nations climate change negotiations, opened in Bonn Germany on Nov. 6 , with Fiji as the presiding nation.
In recent weeks, we have heard news reports of severe hurricanes that have brought normal life to a standstill for millions in the Caribbean and on the American mainland, leaving millions scrambling for basic necessities including food and water. Some areas such as the island of Barbuda have been rendered uninhabitable and dozens of people are missing or dead on the UNESCO world heritage island of Dominica.
The impact is not confined to these regions alone. Other areas, particularly in Vietnam and India have suffered record floods which have destroyed homes, businesses and crops and resulted in over a thousand people being drowned. At the same time, up to 20 countries in Africa have declared drought emergencies. Those nations which are the least developed are most vulnerable to these threating conditions and tend to most severely suffer the impacts.
The November 2017 U.N. Climate Conference in Bonn, presided over by the small island of Fiji, is providing a significant opportunity to not only accelerate emission reductions but to also boost the serious work of ensuring that the management of climate risk is integrated into disaster risk management as a whole. This gathering reminds us that poverty, rapid urbanization, poor land use, ecosystems decline and other risk factors are amplifying the impacts of climate change.
In this graced moment, Brigidine Sisters recognize that united with others, we are being called to hear “ the cries of our hurting planet and those of our sisters and brothers in distress…. We hear the groans of ecological and human exploitation that lead to destruction and annihilation. We are impelled to take action in small and large ways in the footsteps of Jesus, living in the spirit of Brigid of Kildare and reflecting the values of Daniel Delany.” (Congregational Forum, May 2016)