YMCA delegate at COP27: Climate change and inequality

Date: 14 November 2022

By Maria Mjaaland, YMCA Norway

Maria joins a dozen fellow YMCA delegates at COP27 in Egypt. Maria has been involved with the YMCA for more than 15 years and is representing YMCA Norway in meetings with the Norwegian delegation at COP27. She writes about her experiences so far, including addressing inequality and a Just World.


Hello from Egypt!

One week of negotiations has passed, and another is on its way. I’ve been meeting Norwegian politicians, talking with media and following negotiations. We’ve had long days, both fun and frustrating. We know that it goes slowly, but in the right direction. But it goes way too slow: we need rapid change on mitigation to avoid the most brutal losses and damages.

 In between this fight for climate justice, I want to talk about the opportunities we face. Because in addressing climate challenges, we also have the opportunity to solve a lot of other things that aren’t as good as they could be in our world, such as inequality.

We learn when we are kids whether or not something is unfair. If one kid gets more cake than another one, for example, it’s unfair, and the child shouts, “Mum! It’s unfair”. We have all heard that phrase, or said it ourselves. I think those who are leading the world today are so protected from that feeling that they don’t feel they need to change. They are the ones eating the cake without letting others also get a piece. 

Today the 10 percent richest people are responsible for over half the pollution of greenhouse gases in the world. Yet, it is the most vulnerable people in the world who are living in the areas most affected by climate change. Women and children are especially vulnerable to these changes in weather and environment.

Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and Climate and Environment Minister Espen Barth Eide met with the representatives of Norwegian youth organisations at COP 27. Photo: Javad Parsa / NTB; click photo for source.

In Kenya, the rainy season has been missing for four years. The drought causes death among the animals, who get neither food nor water. When the animals die, families lose their income. They can’t pay for food, and they don’t have the money to send their kids to school. Women and children are more prone to being affected by this than men, because men more often have education and other income besides farming.

Another example of how women are affected is they are more vulnerable to rape when they are displaced. The United Nations estimates that climate change can cause 1.2 billion new refugees. This is a big threat to stability inside countries and gender equality.

Everyone deserves the same opportunities, and YMCAs around the world are called to work for a more equitable world through the newly adopted Vision 2030 Pillar 4, a Just World. The YMCA believes in the power of young people and communities to promote and advance justice, peace, equity and human rights for all, so let’s all work together for it.