COP28 Diary 1: Pledges from Climate Action Leaders

COP is the Climate Conference by the United Nations, hosted by the UNFCCC secretariat (UNFCCC: United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). In 2023, COP28 was hosted by the United Arab Emirates and was hosted in Dubai. For us as Spirit of Football, we debated how useful it would be to attend, also looking at the costs for us as small NGO. In the end, we decided to send one representative
The Spirit of Football representative at COP was Iris Albulet, who had co-led the The Ball journey from Singapore to New Zealand and Australia and has represented with her colleague Joaquin The Ball at the Sport Positive Summit 2023 in London. Read here her project diary of the first few days at COP28.

Dec 4, 2023

After a 6 hour flight from Leipzig to Dubai, I went straight from the airport to COP28. The venue was on my way anyway, and who needs sleep these days, am I right?
Upon reaching the bus and metro station Expo City, I ran into some attendees from India, who were also looking for the entry to COP28. Together we made our way in, and when we had to go separate directions, they became the first people to sign The Ball at COP28. It turned out that they were from a business offering climate change solutions: .
After taking a much to long time to figure out to which zone I needed to go and where I could go to get my badge, I finally arrived in the Blue Zone of COP28. The Blue Zone is where the official climate negotiations by the UN parties are held, as well as where the pavilions by member states are located. At country pavilions and pavilions from certain entities and organisations, side events, panels and workshops are hosted. Outside of the Blue Zone is the Green Zone, where similar workshops and panels are hosted by NGOs, businesses and more. While the Green Zone is open to the general public, the Blue Zone is reserved for people with an official COP28 entry pass.

When arriving in the Blue Zone, I re-connected with Valeree who had co-led The Ball in March and April through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand and led The Ball through her home country the Philippines. As Spirit of Football’s Ambassador to Indigenous Peoples she also connected us to many indigenous groups along the way. In her role as a spokesperson for indigenous peoples, Valeree is attending COP and taking part in negotiations representing the Solomon Islands. She is attending COP on behalf of the organisation Nia Tero who support indigenous communities in different countries.

Very fitting that right after I ran into a wonderful couple from South of Brazil, from the Xokleng community. Isabel was representing Instituto Zág at COP28. Instituto Zág is an Indigenous youth-led organization whose key activity is the reforestation and preservation of traditional knowledge around the Araucaria tree, known as Zág.

Next, I navigated my way back from the Blue Zone to the Green Zone to attend the panel discussion:
“Gender Inequality of Risk: Key Considerations for Anticipatory Humanitarian Action”, which was moderated by Dr Raidan Alsaqqaf, Economist, UN-UAE.
I was lucky enough to have two of the panellist sign The Ball and make pledges.

Jackline Koin is the Resilience Envoy for Alliance for Science and works mostly in Kenya; she pledged:

My name is Jackline Koin. I am the Resilience Envoy for the Alliance for Science, a non-government, nonprofit organisation. We operate in Kenya and in the Global South. My promise is that I am going to help the pastoralist children not just access education but also enjoy themselves by playing.

Nesmah Mansoor is active for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and mainly operates in the Middle East . She was excited hearing about The Ball and its message of gender equality and sustainability through sport:

I am a cofounder of Peace Track Initiative working on feminist peace building in Yemen. Today I learned about this amazing, amazing ball and how many people it has met.So it’s 13,000 [signatures] and plus me today, as someone who works on gender equality and dedicated their life for gender equality and feminist future, I am happy to see that we are encouraging young people to talk about sustainability through sport. Because sports are the area one of the things that bring us together and we have seen it last year with the car, with the World Cup and this year with the Women’s World Cup. And I wish to see keep seeing this ball going all over the world, inspiring people as much as it inspired me. And I hope that also little girls get inspired and do what they want to do. If you want to play sports, don’t let people let you think that it’s only for boys. You can be whoever you can be and you can place whatever sports you want. Thank you.

Dec 6, 2023

During the morning of Dec 6, the first pledges came from Alexis Burns and Delaney, who both work on Climate Action at the University of Miami.

My name is Alexis Burns and I pledge to protect safe drinking water in my community. One Ball, One World.

My My name is Delaney and I pledge to continue fighting for sea level rise mitigation and adaptation efforts.

Since I have studied and worken in Jordan before, the connection with the Jordanian delegation came naturally. Farah Atyyat, Journalist on Environmental Topics from Jordan, from Al Ghad Daily Newspaper and Dr Jihan from the Ministry of Environment of Jordan and their colleague signed The Ball. Dr Jihad pledged:

We pledge to be sustainable and to always to address climate change and to work effectively with the global community to combat climate change. Thank you.

When attending the Youth Indigenous Caucus, some representatives of the Brazilian Transport Minstry were excited to sign The Ball.

Later, Jessica Leigh Dunning, Organization for Sustainable Communities (Observer), signed The Ball and pledged:

I pledge on behalf of all of the students who are at Vermont Law and Graduate School working hard to do the important work of environmental justice and work towards climate action and support and do in restorative justice practices so and I pledge to continue their work.

Chase Anthony Ford, represented Micronesia (in the party negotations and said:

I’m Chase Ford with Vermont Lawn Graduate School and a party to Micronesia. I pledge as a future immigration attorney and advocate, to work to expand protections for climate displaced people around the world.

Lastly, Liliana Semo from the UN office in Geneva pledged to protect our beautiful planet:

Prometo que haré todo lo posible para que este planeta sea el más maravilloso del mundo.

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