It has been 3 weeks since I returned from Sharm El-Sheikh after an unforgettable experience at COP27. I will be reflecting on a few of my key reflections and takeaways from all the events and conversations that I had while I was there and how it will impact me moving forward.

  • Go beyond acknowledgments and amplifying underrepresented voices when discussing climate issues. For those of us who are already in the environmental field and are already aware of the environmental injustices taking place throughout the world, it’s important to not just bring awareness to certain issues but also to figure out how you can support the work of individuals and organizations beyond words. This requires a reflection of your own personal skills, talking to the leaders in such organizations to understand where you’re needed (and not needed), and continuing the conversation after your initial conversation (whether it was at COP or any other event). 
  • Success is measured in many different ways at COP, considering there were approximately 35,000 attendees representing nearly 200 countries. I remember reading many different articles as soon as I returned from COP, calling it a failure. And to the people whose issues did not see any traction or whose voices were silenced, it truly was a failure. But to the people who built partnerships to continue the hard work they are carrying out in their own countries to address climate change and to those who have been calling for a loss and damage fund, this was a successful COP for them. 
  • Genuine allyship is key to building strong partnerships in the climate space and requires a considerable amount of time and effort. Some of the people I truly connected with were people I had reached out to prior to landing in Sharm El-Sheikh. So, as much 
  • For anyone going to COP28 and reading this post, remember to take the time to truly talk  to the people you meet and listen to their interests and experiences. Some of my favorite memories from COP are the moments where I got into a conversation on sustainable tourism with someone I introduced myself to while standing in line for food or chose to miss a highly anticipated panel because of a meaningful discussion I was having with someone on diversity in the oceans space. One of those people led me to the COP Solutions Dialogues, an evening dinner discussion series hosted by SEKEM outside of COP. It was at this event that I met an Egyptian UNDP Project Officer who also had a passion for sustainable tourism so we got along right away. I’m sure you get the drift by now..conversations can lead to unexpected surprises that may not have happened if you are too rigid with your time at COP.
  • Take the opportunity to challenge your pre-existing notions about climate issues or to improve your knowledge on topics that you aren’t familiar with. Nuclear energy is not an area I have been following; however, when I happened to meet a student from Ukraine who had thoughts to share based on her own experience, I learned some useful perspectives that should be considered when talking about the energy transition.

I plan to keep these thoughts in mind as I continue my career in the sustainability space and I’m grateful for Duke for giving me the opportunity to learn and challenge myself through this COP27 experience.