The Climate Reality Project Philippines is joining a growing chorus of voices asking “When” and demanding “Now” from world leaders meeting during the 27th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Murals were unveiled in Iloilo City in Iloilo, and Isabela City in Basilan to mark the launch of “Poets for Climate,” a collaborative project among the branches of Climate Reality in the Philippines, Canada, and Africa in support of the “When Is Now” campaign, a global poetry and arts movement organized by the Climate Vulnerable Forum, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, and Agam Agenda.
“When Is Now” links together poems, visual art, murals, and more forms of creative expression that reflect people’s lived experiences of the climate crisis and the call for the developed world to address the vicious cycle of loss and damage experienced by climate-vulnerable countries.
“To contribute to ‘When Is Now,’ we will conduct a series of pebble poem workshops that will harness the diverse languages and points of view of climate advocates in Canada, Africa, and the Philippines to generate short but compelling poems that will amplify the call for world leaders to address the vicious cycle of loss and damage in climate-vulnerable countries,” said Nazrin Castro, manager of Climate Reality Philippines.
Seasoned poets, including prolific African activist and writer Nnimmo Bassey, will serve as mentors during the workshops scheduled every Friday of August.
“More than ever, we need storytelling, arts, and the humanities to generate new ways of responding to the ecological crisis we all face, and which disproportionately impacts marginalized peoples the most while bearing the least responsibility for climate change. Artists and writers can help us reimagine the ways we act on climate, in solidarity with those who are most vulnerable,” said Padmapani Perez, lead strategist for creative collaboration of the Agam Agenda.
“With the global shrinking of civic space, there is a need to amplify the voices of diverse groups, especially those most affected, in the lead up to COP27 and beyond,” said Amy Giliam Thorp, manager of African Climate Reality Project.
Poems written during the pebble poem workshops will be featured in an exhibit on the sidelines of COP27 in Egypt and in simultaneous projections on different sites in the Philippines, Canada, and South Africa. They will also be showcased in When Is Now’s digital exhibition.
André-Yanne Parent, executive director of The Climate Reality Project Canada, highlighted the need to build creative dialogues and compassionate relationships through art. “We aim to uplift the voices of those who have first-hand experiences of the impact of the climate crisis and have day-to-day agency in drafting solutions, yet do not have access to decision-making spaces. We want their messages to resonate inside these spaces, as well as in the minds and hearts of decision-makers,” she said.
Iloilo City, Philippines: Lisó (Seed/ Veer)
The mural in Iloilo City was created by Artivism Iloilo, a collective of artists, social innovators, and unconventional movers working to bring engaging collaborative art to the heart of communities and unlikely locations. It was a response to the poem When will we tire of waiting? by South African-based novelist Yewande Omotoso, as featured in When Is Now’s digital exhibition.
Explaining the concept behind the mural, Kristine Buenavista of Artivism Iloilo said, “The sprout represents our dream – of nourishment, enrichment, and sustenance through the growth and reach of this seed, this consciousness. We used ‘kintsugi’ or golden repair to highlight our yearning for ecological healing.”
Isabela City, Basilan: “Goyak sin Kasa bannalan” (Waves of Reality)
In Basilan, the mural was created by art collective PintaGuhit Isabela City. Responding to the poem When Is Now by Nanditha Ram Satagopan, the mural depicts the beauty of the environment until people severed it and took it for granted.
“We must not be stuck in an image that we can relive the memory of the past. We must focus on fixing this present that we’re in and hopefully, we can provide a much better future. But when?” PintaGuhit asked world leaders.
More murals in the lead-up to COP27
Aside from the ones in Iloilo City and Isabela De Basilan, murals were also unveiled in Johannesburg, South Africa and Québec, Canada.
Climate Reality will explore partnerships with more local artists in the coming months to produce not just murals but other forms of artistic expression communicating the urgency and solvability of the climate crisis.
“A mural in Baguio City is already in the works. We’ve partnered with artist Bong Sanchez to unveil a ‘Poets for Climate’ mural in the city,” Castro said.