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Last week we attended COP26. Here are our takeaways…

Upon arrival, you are immediately aware that the city of Edinburgh is buzzing with people who came to attend the conference from all around the world, and from many different sectors. From start-up tech companies to diplomats, to activists and news media, all eyes were on the city as two weeks of energetic negotiations and activism ensued all around. 

NEOCOCO was lucky enough to attend as an observer. We sat in on panel discussions of industry leaders, attended demonstrations and protests, and met with some incredibly passionate and hardworking people. 

COP has been widely criticized for many different reasons, like a lack of accessibility to the general public and sluggish movement on key policy issues. Regardless of your opinion, it was incredibly clear to us how complex the global market truly is when it comes to addressing climate change. Each country has a different agenda, but most countries agree that it is one of the most important issues to address. 

There was one particular thing that we noticed however, and that was the discussion of the key intersectionality between human rights issues and the effects of climate change. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, “the climate change link to displacement is clear, citing that 90 percent of refugees now come from countries most vulnerable and least ready to adapt to the impacts of climate change.”

Other than an incredible group of Native American activists who proudly rallied attention around their cause, as well as some other incredible voices, there were no large plenary sessions covering things like climate change affecting underdeveloped communities, or namely - how extreme weather is displacing people and contributing to the refugee crisis. From our perspective, the focus was mainly on policy and high level negotiations. 

According to Climate Refugees Founder, Amali Tower, “climate change destabilizes entire existences, it marginalizes people who are already oppressed, and it erodes their rights, their abilities to feed themselves, to work, to withstand disasters, to survive increasing costs of living. This is a failure to not recognize all of that in your policy prescription.” According to their website, they claim that climate justice is also a financial issue. High-emissions countries, who acknowledge the importance of climate finance, but fail in commitments, must compensate communities on the front line for irreparable losses and damage and help resettle displaced people. “This is a woefully low amount of funding to address both what is needed for climate adaptation and mitigation as well as what is owed from those most responsible for the world’s accelerating climate crisis.” (Climate Refugees). 

As a social enterprise, we left COP with more questions than answers. How does an effort like ours fit into a solution? If governments and institutions aren't willing to provide adequate financial solutions to address the root of the problem, then we feel a calling to responsibility to use the same tactics to get as close to the root as possible. 

The more NEOCOCO can grow, the more we are able to provide jobs to marginalized people, thus creating a circular economic system within our own profit structure. Profits and financial longevity would first lift people, then a community, and so on. Slow fashion rethinks how we consume the individual product, and make conscious choices in our consumption. 

Slow fashion is not a new concept, but it is a redefined standard of the future. It encourages us to buy less, and at a higher quality. This makes ethical wages more accessible, environmentally friendly practices more possible, and in the case of Neococo - a platform that empowers marginalized women to reclaim their independence, find financial freedom, and professional achievement. 

We are in the business of people before profit. 

Learn more about how climate change affects refugee issues here:

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