Diplomacy in Civil Society

November 21, 2016
Jayce Hafner, Domestic Policy Analyst, Office of Government Relations

While we continue to advocate for strong climate change policies in the diplomatic zone of the COP22, Episcopalians also inhabit the civil society space of this United Nations climate change conference through leading a daily worship service. Our interfaith service includes group reflections on spiritual values, songs, chants, and prayer, and each day attracts a diverse group of worshipers from around the world. In particular, a number of young, Moroccan, Muslim men and women have eagerly join in the songs and group conversations, and we’ve learned much from our fellow worshipers as they share their religious beliefs and personal experiences at the COP22. 

Today, we focused on the spiritual value of “Interbeing”: the idea that each person needs every other person to be their fullest self. In my small group, I listened as a young man from Morocco spoke about his experiences facing racism within the civil society space of the COP22, while a PhD student from Algeria shared his belief that we must care for each other if we want to care for our planet. A member of our delegation reflected back to the group that our Episcopal faith tradition teaches us that every person is a child of God and as such, a valuable part of our collective community. 

In the civil society space, we are exploring the values that underpin the official UN negotiations, and we are building grassroots relationships that support the diplomatic exchanges occurring at the highest levels of international government. As a Church, we can be effective envoys for climate change, for reconciliation, and for peace. While we do not always have the transformative opportunity to interface with our international brothers and sisters in-person, each day we can continue to reach out to neighbors within our local contexts, reminding one another that we are all essential to creating the Beloved, and Sustainable, Community.