Skip to main content
Nov. 18, 2022

COP27: At the Climate Justice Pavilion, Finally a Home

First-ever environmental justice presence in the UN conference’s official “Blue Zone”

Demonstrators call for climate justice, human rights, and the end of fossil fuels during the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
Demonstrators call for climate justice, human rights, and the end of fossil fuels during the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

For two weeks in November, world leaders held climate negotiations in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, at the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27).

This year, their conversations were informed by the historic Climate Justice Pavilion that brought forward the rarely heard voices and perspectives of the most vulnerable communities.

For the first time in the global climate summit’s 27-year history, a presence focused on climate justice was held by representatives from the Global South, U.S. environmental justice movement, and Indigenous peoples within the conference’s official “Blue Zone,” where the majority of diplomats and policymakers convene.

COP27 — “Conference of the Parties 27” — was the latest in more than a decade of UN climate negotiations that Earthjustice’s attorneys have participated in. We are proud and honored to be a part of the Climate Justice Pavilion.

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, left, poses with Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Dr. Beverly Wright, executive director, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, and Dr. Robert Bullard, director, Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice, Texas Southern University, left to right, at COP27.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey, left, poses with Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice, Dr. Beverly Wright, executive director, Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, and Dr. Robert Bullard, director, Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice, Texas Southern University, left to right, at COP27.

“You cannot talk about solving the climate crisis if the people most impacted are not at the table,” explained Peggy Shepard, co-founder and executive director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice and one of the founders of the Climate Justice Pavilion.

John Beard, with the Port Arthur Community Action Network, speaks during a demonstration on Nov. 9, 2022 at COP27. On Texas’ Gulf coast, Port Arthur is surrounded by eight major oil and chemical industrial sites. Residents suffer ill health effects from living with disproportionately high levels of toxic air, including cancer-causing chemical compounds.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
John Beard, with the Port Arthur Community Action Network, speaks during a demonstration on Nov. 9, 2022 at COP27. On Texas’ Gulf coast, Port Arthur is surrounded by eight major oil and chemical industrial sites. Residents suffer severe health impacts from living with disproportionately high levels of toxic air, including cancer-causing chemical compounds.

For years, reports issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have consistently raised the alarm about the worsening impacts of climate change on the most vulnerable communities, countries, and island states.

Yet the voices, stories, and perspectives of residents of these localities have often been excluded from the UN climate conference and other powerful institutions.

The Climate Justice Pavilion sought to bridge that gap.

RISE St. James founder Sharon Lavigne, right, speaks with Earthjustice’s Adrienne Bloch at the Climate Justice Pavilion inside the Blue Zone at COP27.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
Adrienne Bloch, managing attorney of Earthjustice's Fossil Fuels Program, and RISE St. James founder Sharon Lavigne, right, at COP27. A community organization in Louisiana, RISE St. James is taking a stand against the petrochemical plants that have devastated their air and water.

An estimated 30,000 people — diplomats, business leaders, scientists, NGOs, civil society groups, and more, from nearly every country in the world — attended COP27 to participate in the climate talks and develop solutions and agreements to face the climate crisis.

Effort Nkazimulo Ncube of the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association on stage at the Climate Justice Pavilion, during the panel 'Ensuring Impacted Communities Benefit from Climate Finance.'
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
Effort Nkazimulo Ncube of the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association on stage at the Climate Justice Pavilion during the panel "Ensuring Impacted Communities Benefit from Climate Finance."

During more than two weeks of presentations and conversations, the Climate Justice Pavilion elevated the experiences and leadership of more than 100 speakers from Indigenous groups, the Global South, and more.

Youth representatives from the Philippines, Taiwan, Nigeria, and more, speak on a panel on climate justice, education, and leadership at the Climate Justice Pavilion.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
Youth representatives from the Philippines, Taiwan, Nigeria, and more, speak on a panel on climate justice, education, and leadership at the Climate Justice Pavilion.

More than 40 panels were hosted at the Climate Justice Pavilion, on a wide range of topics including community driven climate solutions, financing for climate resilience innovation, lessons from Indigenous knowledge holders, and climate science accessibility.

Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., of the Hip Hop Caucus (foreground), as former U.S. Vice President Al Gore -- founder of the Climate Reality Project -- delivers an address  at the Climate Justice Pavilion.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr., President of the Hip Hop Caucus, foreground, is among the audience as former U.S. Vice President Al Gore — founder of the Climate Reality Project — delivers an address at the Climate Justice Pavilion.

“The significance of COP27 in Africa underscores the importance of environmental justice and the significance of our first-ever Climate Justice Pavilion,” said Dr. Robert Bullard, widely recognized as the father of the environmental justice movement and one of the collaborators who brought the Climate Justice Pavilion into reality.

“Those who visit the pavilion will hear about sectors of climate policy routinely overlooked and marginalized because of historic environmental racism.”

Pooven Moodley, a human rights lawyer and social justice activist from South Africa, speaks with attorney Erika Rosenthal of Earthjustice’s International Program, who has advised island nations on mitigating the effects of climate change.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
Pooven Moodley, a human rights lawyer and social justice activist from South Africa, speaks with attorney Erika Rosenthal of Earthjustice’s International Program, who has advised island nations on mitigating the effects of climate change.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center, talks with Earthjustice board member and Puerto Rico-based lawyer Ruth Santiago, foreground, and Dr. Robert Bullard, far right, at the Climate Justice Pavilion.  As COP27 progressed, more and more politicians and leaders came to the Climate Justice Pavilion to attend panels and meet with participants.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, center, talks with Earthjustice board member and Puerto Rico-based lawyer Ruth Santiago, foreground, and Dr. Robert Bullard, far right, at the Climate Justice Pavilion. As COP27 progressed, more and more politicians and leaders came to the Climate Justice Pavilion to attend panels and meet with participants.

“We are building a home,” said Dr. Bullard, as he stood in the Climate Justice Pavilion.

“In the past, we’ve come to COP, but we didn’t have a place that was ours, a place where we were truly welcome.”

“Not this year. This year we have a home.” 

The founders and leaders of the organizations that created and led the Climate Justice Pavilion, from left: Dr. Beverly Wright of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Dr. Robert Bullard of the Bullard Center for Environmental Justice, and Peggy Shepard of WE ACT for Environmental Justice.
Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice
The founders and leaders of the organizations that created the Climate Justice Pavilion, from left: Dr. Beverly Wright of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice, Dr. Robert Bullard of the Bullard Center for Environmental Justice, and Peggy Shepard of WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

COP27 ran from Nov. 6 to Nov. 18, 2022.

The COP27 Climate Justice Pavilion is a collaboration effort from:

  • Dr. Beverly Wright, Executive Director of the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice
  • Peggy Shepard, Executive Director of WE ACT For Environmental Justice
  • Dr. Robert Bullard, Director of Bullard Center for Environmental and Climate Justice, Texas Southern University
  • Dr. Deb L. Morrison, CLEAR Environmental
  • Marina Macal, Instituto Clima e Sociedade
  • Cathy Eatock, Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform
  • Mithika Mwenda, PACJA, Pan African Climate Justice Alliance
  • Fred Krupp, President of Environmental Defense Fund
  • Abigail Dillen, President of Earthjustice
Map of Earthjustice offices.

Earthjustice’s International Program partners with organizations and communities around the world to establish, strengthen, and enforce national and international legal protections for the environment and public health. Learn more.

Earthjustice’s Fossil Fuels Program is taking on the fossil fuel industry’s efforts to pursue new paths to profit that not only accelerate the climate crisis, but also continue to cause harm to marginalized communities. Learn more.

Chris Jordan-Bloch is a photographer and filmmaker for Earthjustice. He uses videos, photos, audio and words to tell the stories of Earthjustice and the people and places we fight to protect.