Why I'm Fasting in Solidarity With Yeb Sano, the Lead Climate Negotiator for the Philippines

The Climate Action Network International has organized an international fast in solidarity with Yeb Sano, the lead climate negotiator for the Philippines at the 19th United Nations Climate Conference in Warsaw, Poland. He said in a speech there Monday, on the first day of the conference, that: “In solidarity with my countrymen who are struggling to find food back home and with my brother who has not had food for the last three days, in all due respect Mr. President, and I mean no disrespect for your kind hospitality, I will now commence a voluntary fasting for the climate. This means I will voluntarily refrain from eating food during this COP until a meaningful outcome is in sight.”

I woke up on Tuesday to find my mind and heart focusing on the Philippines and on Yeb Sano’s action. I was pleased to learn that CAN International had taken this initiative in support, and I’ve decided to join their fast in solidarity with him, eating no solid food and consuming only liquids for as long as his fast continues. Others may want to join and fast for a day, a few days or until the end of the climate conference.

Already, on the second day, I’m experiencing what I’ve experienced on other long fasts–how not eating food brings me closer to, keeps me from forgetting, suffering humanity, right now those in the Philippines.

But I am undertaking this solidarity fast with Yeb Sano and the people of the Philippines not just because it is personally the right thing for me to do right now. I’m doing so in the hope that others will join in this action. Large numbers of people around the world fasting with him, demanding that the nations of the world get serious about the deepening climate crisis, could have some impact on what takes place in Poland, and it can help to build a stronger international climate movement.

I will also be contributing money, money I will not be using for food, to the rescue and rebuilding efforts in the Philippines.

There are moments in history where, all of a sudden, unexpected events and actions move humanity forward. We need to be alert for such moments. I’m hoping this is one.

(Contact Ria Voorhaar, CAN International’s communications director, at rvoorhaar@climatenetwork.org, for more information or to join the fast.)

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