Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Coming together, slowly

It's been a long time since I've blogged here, and this one will have to be short.

But I wanted to let you know that things have been, slowly, moving - maybe even progressing.

I said before that COP 15 might have been a disappointment, but it is not, necessarily, a failure - for it was the launching pad for new relationships, and potentially new thinking and new organisations. One area that I did not fully appreciate then is the extent that COP shifted the overall global debate - I'll try to blog about that more in the future. I also did not appreciate that the one (long) day spent with my fellow Quaker Observers would lead anywhere. We have not only stayed in contact but have formed a loose, truly ad-hoc working group (for lack of a better name) of people from different countries who are concerned about the intersection between Quakers, Quakerism and Climate Change. We've had two significant conference calls and many emails. We are concerned with a) supporting local efforts of Quaker meetings to deeply and spiritually engaged with Climate Change; b) to find ways of encouraging strong attention at national level - especially to find ways to encourage national Quaker institutions to move towards Climate Change concerns, c) what is the appropriate Quaker response at the international level - that includes international bodies such as FWCC - which is at the precipice of launching its international consultation process on global change and d) knowledge sharing - who is doing what, what does it mean, what's going on, and how can we best build our collective capacities for mitigating and adapting to climate change?

I know, I know, that's a lot. And I don't want to act like we are the only such group doing this- I suspect a lot of groups of Quakers and fellow travelers, many with international connections, are having permutations of these conversations. It may be impossible for such all of them to really listen to one another- to create a true conversation of conversations, which is Leonard's vision for QIF's Circles of Discernment. I'd certainly like to see it happen.

I dont know what this will really lead to yet. It's emerging. Certainly its a chance for us to stay connected - and to discuss some of our shared concerns, and to practice listening to one another more deeply around one of the most pivotal issues of our time. I generally feel QUakers are, for once, behind the times when it comes to Climate Change. But I also feel it is a greater concern amongst Quaker meetings and individuals than is easily recognisable. the nature of the problem often makes it difficult to spot a spade when it arises.

Our last meeting had the following intentions:

- To pursue the participation of QIF’s Circles of Discernment in FWCC’s Clusters programme and web forums.
- Explore developing a Quaker article on what major Q organisations have done in past few months and what people are doing in next 6 months in response to climate change to be published in at least 3 major Q. publications to compliment FWCC's online platform.
- spread the word on FWCC Global Change Initiative
- Further explore how Quakers can support for UNFCCC processes and international efforts to confront and effectively respond to climate change.
- Support QUNO's budding interest in Climate Change

It was also interesting to note that many of us were actively engaged not only with climate change but with issues of global change more broadly. Julian is deeply engaged with FWCC’s global change initiative, Sara is working on a literature and landscape review of responses to global change for IDS, Leonard is in the process of convening UN officials to discuss global changes and the effects on the UN system, Lindsey is part of a Global Change discussion group, Mary recognizes the connections between climate change and other drivers of global change. At the moment, it seems best to keep that ‘hat and interest’ outside this particular group, which came together around concerns for climate change at an international level (COP 15) and Quakers engagement with climate change. Maybe such an interest in global change is not too surprising - we are a pretty globally-minded group - that is part of how we self-selected to be part of COP, afterall.

But for all of that, none of us wants to loose the incredible importance of the particular and the local, that which can only be done at the ground, on the ground, with both hands dirty.