Once the talk had finished, I made my way out of the venue, only to be stopped by a security guard. He asked me why I was leaving, and suggested that I stay, as there were going to be “some very important people” coming onto the stage next. I was somewhat confused, as there was nothing scheduled for a few hours, but he reassured me that it would be worth my while to stick around. So I did.
After around 10 minutes of waiting, one by one, climate activist after climate activist, they took their seats on the stage. I could not believe what was happening! Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Vanessa Nakate, Daphne Frias, Dominque Palmer, Tori Tsui, Mya-Rose Craig, Viviam Villafana and actor Emma Watson were sat before me. It was overwhelming!
The panel was opened by Amanda Gorman, who performed a new poem entitled “Earth Rise.” It was mesmerising and captured every thought and feeling that I had (and didn’t know I had!) about COP26 and the climate emergency. The panellists discussed intersectional climate justice and the future of leadership in the climate movement. They argued that collective, coalition-led leadership is the most conducive to the intersectional thinking that the climate challenge requires.
As it was a surprise panel, there was no media frenzy, which I think made it feel extra special. I know in my heart that I witnessed a piece of history on that day. I was honoured to have been the room. It was a beautiful moment with such powerful women that I will remember forever.