We are thrilled to share the impactful journey of our representative, Mr. Eric Bagenzi, RDIS Director of Environmental Care and Disaster Risk Reduction, who attended COP28 in Dubai. The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, more commonly known as COP28, was the 28th United Nations Climate Change conference, held from 30 November to 12 December at Expo City, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. This marked a significant milestone as it was the first COP experience for RDIS personnel, propelling us into a new era of climate action. In his comprehensive report, Mr. Bagenzi aptly describes COP28 as more than a conference; it was a baptism by fire in the global fight against climate change. Attending as an NGO observer, he immersed himself in the urgency and gravity of the climate crisis.
Setting the Tone: Prioritizing Adaptation and Resilience Building
The opening ceremony, highlighted by UN Secretary-General António Guterres's stark warning, set the tone for COP28. Standing "on the verge of the abyss" and facing the "fight of our lives," the global community was called to action. The disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities, including youth, indigenous peoples, and those in developing countries, struck a chord. This serves as a powerful reinforcement for RDIS to prioritize adaptation and resilience-building efforts for these communities.
Personal Highlights: Faith Pavilion and Intergenerational Dialogue
A significant highlight for RDIS was participating in the Faith Pavilion panel on "The intergenerational dialogue on the role of youth in adaptation." Sharing the impact of climate change on Rwanda, our youth-led activities, and the transformative power of faith in driving action felt like planting seeds of hope for a sustainable future. Throughout the conference, the vital role of faith communities in addressing the moral dimensions of the climate crisis became evident. The visit of the Christian Climate Observer Program (CCOP) team to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi reinforced our shared responsibility as stewards of Creation.
Key Outputs and Takeaways from COP28
• Networking and Collaboration: Meaningful conversations with stakeholders laid the groundwork for future collaborations and joint initiatives.
• Urgency for Climate Action: COP28 reinforced the immediate need for ambitious action to address the global climate crisis.
• Focus on Vulnerable Communities: The conference highlighted the disproportionate impact on vulnerable communities, emphasizing the need for adaptation and resilience building.
• Role of Faith Communities: Faith-based organizations emerged as crucial players in promoting climate action and addressing the moral dimensions of the crisis.
• Accreditation for UNFCCC COP Meetings: RDIS will actively pursuing accreditation for UNFCCC COP meetings to enhance visibility and foster collaborations.
Harnessing the COP28 Spirit at RDIS
The urgency for immediate and ambitious action cannot be overstated. To translate our experiences into tangible action at RDIS, we have outlined key strategies:
• Integration of Insights: Sharing COP28 best practices to enhance our environmental care and disaster risk reduction programs.
• Building Partnerships: Exploring collaborations with organizations met at COP28 to amplify our impact and access support for adaptation and mitigation projects.
• Investing in the Future: Establishing environmental clubs in schools and a Young volunteer program to empower youth as change agents.
• Restored Area for Demonstration: Creating a designated area showcasing successful environmental restoration projects for demonstration and fundraising.
• Collaboration for Conservation: Partnering with Churches on land restoration to demonstrate our commitment to environmental stewardship.
Our Commitment to a Resilient Future
COP28 has been a transformative experience, providing deep insights, fostering connections, and inspiring renewed commitment. The integration of these experiences into RDIS's programs ensures a more effective and impactful approach. As we return from COP28, we carry not only urgent global climate concerns but also a renewed sense of purpose to contribute meaningfully to a more resilient and sustainable world.
While COP28 may have concluded, the fight for our planet continues. As RDIS representative return to Rwanda, we carry the echoes of urgency, hope, and collaboration. Our journey has just begun, fueled by the knowledge, connections, and inspiration gained in Dubai. Together, we can build a more resilient and sustainable future - one step, one collaboration, one act of care at a time. The echoes of COP28 will resonate in the impactful contributions we strive to make toward a healthier planet.