Katowice, Poland (Europe): From December 2 to 14, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP24) is taking place in Katowice, Poland. It is the 11th Climate Conference where the Brahma Kumaris (BK) is actively participating. BK green youngsters joined the Conference of Youth (COY), which is held before the UN governmental event.
The BK preparations for this COP have been intense, right from the beginning. For one year, the preparatory team had many meetings with organisations and activists. They also participated in a number of climate camps and conferences.
This year the BK green team has come from all over the world. The head of the delegation is Sister Jayanti (UK) supported by Golo (India), Valériane (Switzerland), Sonja (Denmark); Aneta, Asha, Dorotka, Ewa and Marek (Poland); Caroline (Germany), Francis and Erica (Brazil), Patricia (Peru) and Niranjan (India/Germany). The initial discussions were about the logistics of the conference and how to create an understanding of the need for hope, personal transformation and the importance of values, ethics and spirituality.
Interfaith opening of COP
On 1st Advent Sunday, December 2nd, the interfaith community gathered in St. Stephen’s Church to celebrate the opening of the conference. The event was organized by the Brahma Kumaris, Green Faith, The Franciscans International, The Global Catholic Climate Movement and others. The gathering served as a platform for faith communities attending the COP to share their initiatives, concerns and hopes in the framework to the Talanoa dialogue.
The participants, more than 140, were welcomed by the local priest, Adam Palion, on behalf of the Archbishop of Katowice. He informed that every day, in all Polish churches, a prayer for the success of the conference and for planet Earth is taking place. Then Pan Damian Stepien, who spoke on behalf of the city, said that Katowice, which is well known for its century-old coal mining industry, is undertaking great efforts to become greener and more environmentally friendly.
The intense Preparations and engagement with Civil Society
The preparations for COP24 have kept the Brahma Kumaris centre in Poland busy for over a year. The engagement in the Polish civil society with the topic of climate change is on a totally different level compared to COP19 in Warsaw five years ago. Awareness of Climate Change has arrived in Poland also. Environmental groups and activists are now more outspoken and the general understanding of climate change in the Polish population is increasing day by day.
Sonja and Golo visited Poland during the summer 2018 as part of the COP preparations. They met the Heinrich Bøll foundation in Warsaw and gave a talk in the BK centre in Smolna. Afterwards, they drove with Aneta and Ewa to the town of Kielce. There, in the mountains, was an environment summer camp. There, they gave a detailed presentation on climate change and spirituality.
Afterwards, the group went to Bytom near Katowice and checked out the accommodation and the conference venue in Katowice. The accommodation was very good, thanks to the Polish BKs who had booked it almost a year before.
Later in the summer the Polish green team participated in a Climate Camp and met a number of environmental groups, including Green Peace. The enthusiasm and new energy of these activists was exciting to witness.
In September 2018 the BKs attended two big Environmental conferences in Warsaw: “Adapt City” and “Is it too late”– organised by the famous think-tank Institute of Eco Development.
The interfaith and ecumenical climate change activities have been led by Adam Palion from the delegation of Archbishop of Katowice. He has been very co-operative and helpful towards other faith organisations in preparing for this COP24.
On October 25th, the Ecumenical Academy arranged a conference called “Stop the speech of hatred”. The Polish BK group had an opportunity to present the project “Million Good Wishes for the Earth” and share our spiritual approach towards environment problems.
On November 29th, there was a conference called “The Earth is One” attended by Ewa, Aneta, Marek, Bishek and Teresa. Representatives from different religions shared their perspective on climate change. The BKs invited everyone to the Talanoa Dialogue and highlighted the connection between our inner and outer world.
In October, Aneta participated in a pre-COP meeting arranged by the UNFCCC in Katowice to get a clearer picture of the arrangements for COP24.
Brahma Kumaris programs
The BK centres in Poland organized meditations for the Earth and COP24 twice a week since February. The centre in Gdansk arranged six public programs in libraries on the personal values connected to the environment. Aneta and Dorotka also presented the main Polish initiative “A Million Good Wishes for the Earth.” The BKs participated in a Health Fair in Katowice, speaking about the impact of the climate on human health.
They also organised a campaign in the trams in Katowice for two weeks. Advertisements for BK programs were shown at regular intervals.
The Polish BK group is whole heartedly supporting the Climate Conference activities.