WRITTEN BY: Anna Sipek
As Tzu Chi entered day five of COP28 in Dubai, they pushed those around them to meditate on the futures they wanted to see. Hosted in the Blue Zone, Tzu Chi and Baha’i International Community came together to organize an exhibit dedicated to showcasing visual arts from most impacted communities and youth from around the world.
“We really wanted to bring art to COP this year to inspire delegates and representatives from different countries/civil society to really show them what a better future can look like,” explained Steve Chiu, Tzu Chi Representative to the UN. “[We want to] give them that inspiration and fuel they need to negotiate out a more ambitious outcome from this year’s climate conference.”
Finding the beauty and importance of future exploration
Explorations of the future can seem like a luxury when you and your community are just trying to survive, but we recognize the importance of imagining the sort of future we want. It allows us all to detach from our current circumstances, to evaluate paths forward, and to get in touch with our own desires. Without dreaming up new futures, there is no direction or hope for any of us outside of severe and existentially concerning ecological degradation.
“We wanted this exhibit to be a space of reflection where people can come together in conversation with us to ask the question of What kind of future do we hope for? so that we can kind of see the different values and visions that everyone here at COP has that we’re really creating together,” noted Steve Chiu.
Visions of the future:
For some, the future they looked forward to was simple and ambitious.
“Like the ideal future would be everyone having equal access to food eliminating food insecurity as a whole,” shared Eva Vang, COP28 Participant.
Others explored the future in a more practical and grounded sense, finding comfort in concrete shorter term future goals:
“There’s a workshop that was planning how to put together a grant to be funded by the Templeton Living Trust,” explained Christopher Elisara Executive Director Creation Care Task Force through the World Evangelical Alliance. “Their funding has to do this planning process and when we put the grant together and the outcome of that is going to be a better way for faith to make cities better in terms of their design in terms of the environment and all the other things that make cities better for people and planet.”
Others still focused not only on concrete goals, but on the emotions that will come with their imagined future.
“My vision for a better future I really think that it’s one filled with abundance and joy where food is a foundational human right,” shared Steve Chiu. “Where no matter who you are you never have to go hungry because the climate the planet is providing for us in a way that you can go to bed happy and full every day.”
The Blue Zone Exhibition provided inspiration to policy-makers and COP 28 participants alike as it ran for multiple days over the course of the conference.