Global citizens’ assembly brings the voice of the people to COP26

A man in a suit jacket and no tie stands in the foyer of a glass building

McMaster History Professor and Senator William McMaster Chair in Global Human Rights Bonny Ibhawoh (Photo by Georgia Kirkos)

Bonny Ibhawoh, the Senator William McMaster Chair in Global Human Rights, and a team of graduate student research assistants have been working closely with the world’s first global citizen assembly, which presented a significant declaration at this week’s United Nations Climate Change Conference — familiarly known as COP26.

The team provided consultation and training to the Global Climate Assembly, which was created by community organizations, scholars, scientists and policy makers from more than 50 countries with the aim of establishing a permanent global citizens’ group to address issues including climate change, health and inequality.

The assembly will present its People’s Declaration for the Sustainable Future of Planet Earth on November 1, the second day of COP26.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has described the assembly as “a practical way of showing how we can accelerate action through solidarity and people power.”

Ibhawoh, who was in Geneva last week preparing for COP26, is on the governance committee for the Global Climate Assembly, which aims to have more than 10 million participants worldwide by 2030.

He is also the director of the Faculty of Humanities’ Centre for Human Rights and Restorative Justice, and the principal investigator for Participedia – a global resource for participatory democracy initiatives housed at McMaster that recently received a $2.5 million Partnership grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.

“Large global events like COP26 offer researchers an opportunity to learn from and share research with diverse groups of civil society organizations, policy makers and practitioners,” explains Ibhawoh.

“They also give researchers a chance to contribute to finding solutions to global problems such as the climate crisis.”

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