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Interview - Issue #8

COP26: Frontline Communities

An interview with Aryaana Khan

Where the Leaves Fall contacted global changemakers for their thoughts and responses to this year’s COP26 - the UN Climate Change Conference. Aryaana Khan was born and raised in Bangladesh, a country submerged underwater every year as a result of climate change. Now based in New York, she does climate advocacy work with various non-profit organisations while studying biochemistry at The City College. She hopes to pursue a medical career, in which she can mitigate the health impacts caused by larger issues such as environmental inequity and climate change. You can read the edited interview that was published in the print edition of Where the Leaves Fall here.

Where the Leaves Fall What do you feel are the most pressing issues for COP26 to address and why?

Aryaana Khan I think COP26 needs to address the disproportionate effects of climate change on frontline communities such as my native country Bangladesh. Frontline communities contribute the least to carbon emissions, but are affected the most by extreme climate events such as flooding; they are also the communities with the least resources. In order to properly address the climate crisis, we need to equitably divert resources to these communities so they can implement local solutions that work for them.

Additionally, it is important to note the role of colonisation and our present systems on these disproportionate effects of the climate crisis: things are the way they are now due to over-exploitation of certain people, animals, and the land. We cannot tackle the climate crisis without addressing the histories and ideals that our present systems are predicated on.

‘I feel myself amidst dark clouds while thinking about the future of the climate crisis, but also know that such a future is not set in stone.’

— Aryaana Khan

WtLF What outcomes (and practical measures) would you like to see emerge from COP26?

Aryaana I'd like to see equitable distribution of resources and nature-based climate solutions emerge from COP26. Thus far, we know that the climate crisis stemmed from humans building against nature instead of with it, and exploited each other, as well as natural resources, in that process. I hope COP26 provides a widespread impetus to move forward differently, and facilitates a distribution of resources to do just that.

WtLF How optimistic are you that COP26 will deliver positive change, and why?

Aryaana I feel myself amidst dark clouds while thinking about the future of the climate crisis, but also know that such a future is not set in stone - especially if we can take collective action now. COP26 has the potential to mobilise global communities around solutions, and I am hopeful that people will understand the urgency of this moment enough to do so. As a young person, that optimism is one of the few things that allows me to look towards a different future.

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