FaithInvest's Director of Membership Nana Francois explains why, despite predictions of hot air at next week's climate change conference, we'll be at COP26 – listening, learning, collaborating and contributing
As COP26 approaches, we remain acutely aware of the effects that human action and inactions have caused to the environment – our biodiversity and our climate – and all the social inequity and societal harms that just seem to keep getting worse.
And this awareness is juxtaposed against a crisis in confidence in our governments, with a palpable sense that events such as COP will under-deliver, and governments may not catch up on old promises, let alone accelerate enough to make the changes required to reverse our current trajectory.
Only this week the United Nations said the world was not on track to avoid catastrophic climate change. Its just released Emissions Gap Report forecasts disastrous temperature rises of at least 2.7C if countries fail to strengthen their climate pledges.
And yet, we’re heading to COP26 with extensive plans for participation and high hopes for progress.
Because we believe there is great capacity for the world’s faiths to make a significant impact when it comes to global efforts on climate change.
By institutions of faith doing what they have always done – seeking to live by the tenets of their faith for the good of people and planet – but at greater scale, and in ways that more fully align their investments with their faith values and beliefs, working collaboratively with each other and with the wider world, practising what they preach as they preach what they practise.
At FaithInvest, we work with religious organisations across the globe representing all faiths. Our goal is to help faith organisations invest for positive change. We do this by facilitating issues that may have limited them from contributing more effectively in the past.
Some opportunities arise, other opportunities are created
When you are global and diverse and talking openly about the opportunities within this community of faiths, sometimes opportunities to help create these solutions find their way to you.
For example, we are delighted to be hosting a round table at COP26 next week with the World Bank's Climate Investment Funds (CIF), looking at possible new structures and strategies for mobilising faith-based institutional capital to support a just transition.
We create opportunities too, by bringing together partners and experts of all faiths (and none), hosting workshops and meetings around our recently launched Faith Plans for People and Planet programme – commitments developed by the world's religious groups to use their assets, influence, and resources to drive practical action on climate change, biodiversity, and sustainable development over the next seven to ten years.
Our meetings and workshops cover all areas in which faith groups are actively seeking to make a difference for people and planet, including with their financial assets. They play a dual role – firstly as a call to collaboratively share what faiths are already doing to help solve and manage the consequences of the world’s environmental crises, and secondly as a call to action to do more and to do better in the coming years.
Where we stand, and where we’ll be
So, despite the challenges, COP26 has the potential to be a gathering of great promise. We think COP26 will attract many globally based, solutions-focused minds coming together to get beyond the headlines and into the detail of the “how” and “with whom” and “for whom”.
That's why we'll be there – listening, learning, collaborating, and contributing – whatever the governments of the world do, or fail to do, at this pivotal UN climate conference. Because now is the time for all sections of civil society, including the faiths, to step up and take real action on climate change.
And so FaithInvest will be at COP26 with our partners – with CIF at FaithInvest and Climate Investment Funds round table; with Ahl al-Bait Scotland and Focolare at the COP and Beyond plenary; with Focolare at the COP26 Faith Plans for People and Planet panel discussion and workshops; with the Global Ethical Finance Initiative and UK Islamic Finance Council at the Faith in the SDGs Summit; and at the New York Times Climate Hub Laudato Si’ – Faithful Action panel discussion and pre-launch of the Laudato Si' film.
If you will be there in person, we hope you find us and join us! Even if you won’t be there, we look forward to keeping in touch, and encourage you to join the membership of investment professionals committed to moving capital in a faith-consistent manner, and join the movement of faith leadership committed to being faith consistent across all their activities, including the management of their financial assets, for the good of people and planet.
Read our piece on why finance will be at the heart of COP26 next week: the cost of addressing climate change – and the cost of not