On 5 September 2021, 40 walkers will set off from Parliament Square in London (just after 2pm) and from Bristol a few days later on a 500-mile journey to the United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow.
The walk has been called “Camino To COP” in reference to pilgrimages made since medieval times. It is inspired by the faith tradition of pilgrimage and great justice marches of the past – such as the Jarrow March in the UK, the Salt March in India, and the March on Washington in the US. The aim is to share personal, human stories and inspire others to add their voices to the growing global chorus demanding that governments treat the climate crisis as the emergency that it is. The pilgrimage is also fundraising to empower activist groups in areas most impacted by climate change to join the conversation themselves.
“My ethnic roots are in the small Indian coastal state of Goa and I grew up in the Solomon Islands,” says Melanie Nazareth, age 61, lawyer and mother of four from London who is the Strategic and Spiritual Lead for Camino to COP. “What is happening in these two places connects the ecological crisis and the climate crisis straight to my heart. The people most affected by ecological and climate breakdown are not being heard. I hope that we can amplify voices like these as we walk the Camino.”
“I am not religious but I do feel a strong sense of connectedness to mother earth,” says Lorraine, age 57, a charity chief executive from East Sussex. “Each day I am struck by the extraordinary magic and beauty of nature, combined with a deep anger and grief that we seem hell-bent on destroying it. At times, I feel helpless in the face of the scale of the climate and ecological emergency. But I refuse to give up hope – and it is this that fuels my Camino to COP.”
Although led by the Extinction Rebellion interfaith alliance, known as the XR Faith Bridge, people from a variety of backgrounds, of different faiths and none, have felt compelled to participate. Approximately 15 people are expected to walk the entire route over the course of eight weeks, arriving in Glasgow on the eve of COP26, 30th October 2021, while others will join for part of the journey.