An update on the 2015 Fall Education Campaign Creating a Climate of Change

The 2015 Development and Peace fall education campaign has been a big success with thousands of Canadians across the country leading the campaign in their communities, parishes, and schools.

Launched on September 1st on the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation declared by Pope Francis, the campaign focussed on the impact of climate change on the most poor and vulnerable in the world, with the message that we need to change ourselves and our systems in order to address climate change.

Following the launch of the Pope’s encyclical, Laudato Si, this campaign showed that change needs to happen at the individual, community, and national level.

Development and Peace led this campaign here in Canada, while Catholics around the world expressed their commitment to respecting creation through networks such as the Global Catholic Climate Movement, and through CIDSE’s Change for the Planet, Care for the People campaign.

From October 23-25, 2015, over 30 climate vigils were organized by Development and Peace members across the country. Then, as world leaders descended upon Paris for the COP21 climate negotiations, 785,000 people marched worldwide to tell them that it is time to take real action on climate change. Here in Canada, 25,000 people gathered in Ottawa, while other marches took place from Antigonish, Nova Scotia to Vancouver, B.C.

Development and Peace has distributed thousands of action cards across Canada calling on the Prime Minister to take action on climate change. These cards are currently being counted, and we will know in early February the exact number of cards that have been received.

Canadians who signed the cards also committed to personally make a lifestyle change so that we do everything we can to reduce our impact on the climate. Change must take place at every level for the survival of people in the Global South, and for the survival of our planet.

We have already seen results since the action cards began pouring into the Prime Minister’s office. Using the card, Canadians were asking for leadership at the Paris talks, and for generosity so that communities can adapt to the impacts of climate change. In Paris at COP21, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna took a leadership role in the talks, encouraging the other States to ambitiously work towards the goal of ensuring that the world’s temperature rise does not exceed 1.5°C. Canada has also made a commitment to providing resources so that the most vulnerable communities can adapt to climate change. The card also asks the federal government to make the transition from a fossil-fuel dependent economy towards one that is based on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

A Development and Peace delegation of staff and members went to Paris to monitor the negotiations of 195 countries inside the United Nations venue and join the citizen mobilisations and public events throughout the city, which were the culmination of citizen mobilisations around the world.

As the Canadian negotiators returned home with a signed climate agreement, and a lot of work ahead in order to respect it, our Development and Peace delegation left Paris with a stronger commitment to be part of the transition to a world based on climate justice, and ensuring that our government fulfills the commitments that it has made.

By Dominique Godbout, Programs Officer, Humanitarian Assistance

Women are closely involved in determining the design priorities for shelters in the Rohingya refugee camps.

It has now been four years since the beginning of the massive influx of Rohingya refugees from Burma (Myanmar) into Bangladesh. Four years that Caritas Bangladesh, through its Emergency Response Program, has been working tirelessly to respond to the critical needs of the Rohingya women, girls, boys and men who live in the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar.

Since 2017, too, Development and Peace — Caritas Canada, with support from thousands of Canadians and Global Affairs Canada, has been helping Caritas Bangladesh provide dignified and safe shelters to families in congested and disaster-prone camps.

Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy drove our commitment to ensuring that the shelters meet the specific needs of those who spend the most time in them: women, adolescent girls and other vulnerable groups. This meant that shelters had to be made of durable materials; be well ventilated; and have safe cooking and bathing spaces, room partitions for increased privacy, and locks for safety.

Caritas Bangladesh’s gender-sensitive, community-led approach to shelter rehabilitation and construction has had meaningful impacts on the community, especially for women, girls and vulnerable groups. Female participants have gained the confidence to voice their needs and participate in making decisions about upgrades to their shelters. They have also become skilled, knowledgeable, and self-reliant with respect to shelter rehabilitation/construction. Their use of these new skills and capacities has also led to greater community cohesion and pride. Women also feel a greater sense of security and confidence in their shelters’ ability to withstand recurring extreme weather events. Caritas Bangladesh is helping Rohingya women develop shelter planning, construction and maintenance skills.

Caritas Bangladesh is helping Rohingya women develop shelter planning, construction and maintenance skills.

In the past year, fires, floods, cyclones and the COVID-19 pandemic have caused several setbacks in the delivery of the humanitarian response. This has had adverse impacts on the safety and well-being of the refugees, especially those from the most vulnerable households. These difficulties notwithstanding, Development and Peace remains committed to supporting Caritas Bangladesh’s sustained effort to secure the dignity of the Rohingya people and improve their prospects.