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Sister Durstyne, OP, to Attend COP27
COP27 logo of Dominican Justice Promoters

November 1, 2022, Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt – “It’s really now or never. …There’s no turning back.”

Those words by Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP, Dominican Representative to the United Nations, illustrate the urgency she takes with her as she attends the Conference of the Parties (COP27) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), held November 6-18, 2022, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Sister Durstyne will serve as a delegate, representing Dominicans and all women religious at COP27.

COP27 was not originally scheduled for 2022, Sister Durstyne said, but the commitments made by the UN member states at COP26 last year were not strong enough – or not acted upon strongly enough – to make a difference in climate change mitigation efforts. Her hope for COP27 is for the member states to make firm commitments to reduce emissions of fossil fuels to keep the rise in temperature at or below 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

Participants of COP27 are divided into two basic groups: the Blue Zone, reserved for UN member states who will decide on limiting fossil fuel emissions in their nations, and the Green Zone, made up of various groups of civil society – including faith-based groups. While negotiations and the work of COP27 will take place in the Blue Zone, the Green Zone will be the site of side events such as workshops and opportunities for those in civil society to make their voices heard. 

Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP
Sister Durstyne Farnan, OP

“The emphasis in COP26 was loss and damage, and member states didn’t want to hear about it,” Sister Durstyne said. But, she added, “climate change is already severely impacting Earth and all of her resources.” She pointed to hotter summers and to food scarcity – two of the many environmental problems brought about by climate change. “All we can do now is try to limit [the effects of climate change],” she said. 

Sister Durstyne described the current world situation as “a very scary moment.” However, she said, she finds hope in the fact that COP27 is taking place. “People are going to come together and significant decisions are going to be made,” she said. “If they don’t, we won’t have a future without catastrophic things happening to people and nations globally.” She finds hope especially from the voices of those most affected – the people of southern nations in Africa and South America, already being afflicted because of climate change.

Another source of hope for Sister Durstyne is the involvement of people of faith who are trying to bring their voices into the discussions of COP27. “I really hope I can bring the faith dimension to this gathering.”

People of faith will have a particularly visible presence to COP27 on November 13, during a pilgrimage to Mount Sinai, where God revealed the 10 Commandments to Moses. “We will be pilgrims going to Mount Sinai to pray… about how we might mitigate climate change,” Sister Durstyne said. She noted that a similar symbol – the burning bush by which God first communicated with Moses – was used in the September 1 to October 4, 2022, Season of Creation. “We were addressing the topic of Mother Earth heating up,” she explained. 

In particular, Sister Durstyne said, COP27 means much for the Dominican family throughout the world. “Justice is constitutive for Dominicans,” she said. “It’s part of preaching.” This preaching about climate change can be experienced through Shoeless in Sinai: A Digital Pilgrimage that includes several online events and the invitation to a daily prayer sequence from November 6-18. The COP27 calendar includes daily reflections that are to be used in the prayer sequence, along with links to videos highlighting ecological work done by many Dominican congregations. 

Adrian Dominican Sisters who contributed reflections were Sisters Emmy Chelagat Choge, OP, Jenny Fajardo, OP, Durstyne Farnan, OP, and Corinne Sanders, OP. The calendar also includes videos by Jared Aslakson, Permaculture Specialist for the Adrian Dominican Sisters, on rain gardens and Sister Patricia Benson, OP, on water.

Those who cannot attend COP27 or the pilgrimage to Sinai can keep up with the gathering through other resources as well: through the Justice Coalition of Religious Guide to COP27.

Links to COP27 Resources

Justice Coalition of Religious Guide to COP27: 

Shoeless in Sinai: A Digital Pilgrimage to COP27:

Calendar with Prayer Resources and Video Links: 


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