Typhoon Haiyan, COP19 and Fasting

Posted by on November 21, 2013 at 5:30 PM

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A few hours after the Philippines was hit, yet another cyclone hit Somalia on the Indian ocean coastline. Over one hundred deaths have been reported and thousand displaced from their homes, in a country that is already enduring decades of conflict.

These events were the backdrop to which the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP19) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), kicked-off in the Polish capital, Warsaw. This international two-week gathering is an annual event that brings together governments (or state parties as they are referred to in UN jargon), scientists, civil society organizations among other stakeholders, to map out solutions and put in place regulations to address the global climate crisis. 

The first week and opening of COP19 commenced with a moving speech from Mr. Yeb Sano, the chief negotiator of the Filipino delegation, who shared his personal grief and that of his country men and women affected by typhoon Haiyan. He called on COP19 to deliver on climate justice and announced that he was starting a fast (reported as “hunger strike” by mainstream media) until the COP19 showed positive outcomes. His announcement was picked up quickly by civil society organizations, which vowed to stand with Mr. Sano and the Philippines in pushing for ambitious outcomes to the climate negotiations. 

The Lutheran World Federation Youth, which has a delegation of young people at COP19 from Brazil, Liberia, India, the United States, Sweden and Poland, engaged different faith groups at COP19 whose representatives came together to embark on a fasting chain. Here are the key reasons for the interfaith call to fast for climate justice: 

  • we are fasting in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable who are disproportionately affected by extreme weather events; 
  • we are praying and fasting for the victims and survivors of typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines,
  • as well as other people affected by extreme weather events all around the world; 
  • which are increasing in frequency and intensity due to climate change; we are fasting, praying and meditating for a tangible and ambitious outcome to the climate change negotiations; 
  • we are calling for urgent action to bring sanity and ethics in the international climate negotiations





We at CYNESA have taken up this invitation and welcome you to join us and to build this international interfaith solidarity. As Cardinal Bergoglio wrote in a 2009 Lenten message: “fasting helps us overcome our indifference toward those who are homeless, hungry, or suffering in other ways. “We show no interest in their lives, their stories, their needs or their future. How many times did their pleading looks make us look the other way and walk by? When we get used to something we also become indifferent.”


Don’t worry if you are unable to fast this time! There will be more opportunities in the future and we will be sure to keep you posted!


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