COP28 Diary 2: Ministers, Indigenous peoples and Gurudev

Read here, how Spirit of Football representative Iris met indigenous leaders, environment ministers and the famous Indian guru Ravi Shankar.

Dec 8, 2023

Ravi Shankar, often called Sri Sri (honorific) or Gurudev (teacher) is an Indian yoga guru, a spiritual leader. He visited COP28, to share his views on balance and mental health and the connection to the envirnoment. During his talk at the Colombia pavillion at COP28, he talked about the importance of mental health, and asked:

How can people care about the climate, when they’re overwhelmed with mental health struggles?

He was pleased to hear about The Ball and its message of unification, peace and environmental efforts.

Right after, the Colombian Minister for Environment and well-respected environmentalist, María Susana Muhamad González, who had just held the interview session with Gurudev, signed The Ball and said:

Well, this looks like the Earth and this is our home. So I’m pledging for everybody to put pressure on your governments so that we can phase out fossil fuels and protect biodiversity.

Similar to our motto, when we say that we only have one world and one ball and we have to take care of both of them.

Yes, there is only one world and [there is no other] place like home.

On the same day, during a visit at the Malaysia pavilion, The Ball was signed by the Malaysian Environment minister and his colleague.

Earlier that day, we had met Adama Ekberg Coulibaly who is a Lead Economist, Industralization and Economic Diversification at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

He called on all of us to

switch to renewable energy solutions very fast.

He said it’s urgent that we phgase out fossil fuel, and that the most effective way to convince those who oppose the end of fossil fuel is to increase the production of renewable energy. The argument of moving from using fossil fuel to renewable energy (rather than just stopping fossil fuels) can help to convince even big players to invest in renewable energy and therefore move way from fossil fuels.

Here is an excerpt of the message Adama Coulibaly gave us:
“We want to make sure that all the people who like football, yeah, who like football, We want to make sure that they’re also now change their mind to do the right thing. And the right thing to do today is to shift from making use of fossil fuels to really make more consumption of renewable energy. So this is really the key action, key action. We are asking everybody to contribute very, very clear and key action. Point the action. We are asking the entire people that enjoy playing football or watching football to make sure that they use this, their love for for the for the game, to change the attitude, to have the new mindset and adopt, you know, the to be part of, to be like a game changer. Everybody can be an agent of change, but the only way they can do that is to be very careful, mindful about what kind of energy they consume.

It is as living in cities, what kind of energy they produce. If they are living in a in a village, you know, or in rural areas, this is where they can also make the change. So you can make the change wherever you are located. If you’re in a city, you have to be very mindful about what you consume, what kind of energy is used to, to make that product or to make that service. So their contribution, the biggest contribution that they can the man’s product and service that make utilisation of energy that clean, that renewable. If they do that then they became really the serious part that became serious good agent of change. So and they can make use of me. I think that football is a powerful instrument, is a powerful. I mean, again and all of us will lose football. Let’s make sure that football, this ball is used to make this change happen and make it happen faster. This is really what I can share with you as message.”

On that day, we also had met Ida Maria Just who works as a Public Affairs Manager for CARE Denmark. The connection came through one of our Spirit of Football directors who works with Ida for Care Denmark.

Dec 9, 2023

The Ball visited the indigenous forums forum in the morning, the same day the President of COP Dr. Sultan Al-Jaber came to speak and listen to the indigenous peoples pleas. Right after, our friend Carmen Rosa Guerra Ariza from Nia Tero gathered some of her indgenous colleagues to head and sign The Ball.

Carmen was the first who signed The Ball and pledged:

My name is Carmen Rosa Guerra Ariza and I am a Kankuama indigenous woman from the Sierra Nevada Santa Marta, the heart of the world. And I am pledging because the heart of the world needs to keep beating, and we need to protect strategical territories in order to survive as a humanity. One Ball, One World.

José Francisco Cali Tzary, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:

My name is Francisco Cali. I am the special Rapporteur on indigenous people from the United Nations and I pledge for all the sport, especially football, soccer, to take in account indigenous people’s right and to recognise individuals who are playing football as indigenous peoples. Thank you very much.

Ann Siantayo Samate, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs:

My name is Anne Samate, I come from Kenya, an indigenous woman from the Masai community of Kenya. I work for Pedo, an Indigenous Peoples organizations organization based in Kenya, and I commit that indigenous women, though we face first hand impacts of climate change, we are committed, just as the way we are the natures of family, to nurture the environment and stay strong in this journey. Thank you.

Joseph Mokinyo Simel, Tebtebba Foundation:

I’m signing to declare our commitment as Indigenous peoples in Eastern Africa, in Africa and globally for protection of the natural habitat and we hope everybody will respect nature. I respect Mother Earth for spirituality of today and for generation, current generation and many to come.

Amadou Adamou, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights:

I am Amadou Adamou from Cameroon leading the Mbororo Social and Cultural Development Association, which is an indigenous pastoralist organisation in Cameroon. So I plead this one because football unite us not only in Africa but in the whole world. One Ball, One World. One Ball, One World for climate change.

Tarcila Rivera Zea, CHIRAPAQ, Centre de Culturas Indigenas del Perú:

I’m Tarcila Rivera, from Peru, from South America, and my pledge is that the football game is very important, popular, and it must be useful to obtain the rights for indigenous peoples, women and children.

Dec 10, 2023

The Ball’s last day at COP was busy with interviews, meeting our friends from The Ball Journey from Kiribati and collecting more pledges. After we met Baniti who we had met during one of our focal group discussions in Kiribati in August 2023, we ran into Amb. Dr. Malami Shehu Maa’ji and Amb. Muhammad Shahid Khan from the the International Human Rights Commission (IHRC), an intergovernmental organization. Amb. Malami Shehu is the African Ambassador for the IHRC and Amb. Muhammad Shahid Khan is the World Chairman of IHRC. Earlier during COP, Amb. Muhammad Shahid Khan had bestowed the Medal of Honor upon Dr. Malami Shehu in acknowledgment of his unwavering dedication to humanity across African nations. When signing The Ball, both gave their statements for human rights and climate action:

Amb. Muhammad Shahid Khan

I pledge myself for the climate change and to climate justice by playing the football.

Amb. Dr. Malami Shehu Maa’ji

I’m a promoter and the lover of young people, advising them and promoting them to become the leaders of tomorrow. We wish that all over the world [will work together] under the International Human Rights Commission.

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