Are you hearing the voices of school children getting louder in your city? Can you see how many people joined forces with climate activists to demand a systemic change? From Sydney to London, San Francisco, Paris, Seoul, Cape Town, Kiev and Ottawa, individuals are raising their voices to demand that their government grasp the scale of the climate and extinction crisis and act immediately to preserve what can still be saved of our planet’s species, biodiversity and ecosystems.
Climate change is happening faster than we predicted and it is our responsibility, as consumers and inhabitants of the planet that we don’t let our way of life lead to a collapse of the ecosystems, ocean acidification, mass desertification, and coastal cities being flooded into inhabitability. From the Fridays for Future movement to Extinction Rebellion, whole segments of the population are fiercely questioning our current system. They argue that we fundamentally need to re-evaluate our relationship to ownership, work and capital. The upsurge of activists will not accommodate with words and pledges, they are demanding a profound change and are making sure we all know that they will not rest until concrete actions are in place: there will not be any ‘back to business as usual’ for them until governments take real actions for the planet.
“The leading figures and powerful voices of the ‘global’ climate movement haven’t yet reached out to the majority of the earth population who lives in the South.”
In the past six months, these movements have mushroomed so quickly that mainstream media are starting to give a voice to those who speak out against the capitalistic system we have built our societies on. It’s not so unexpected anymore to read serious articles blaming our greed for perpetual growth, which is driving us inexorably towards disaster. And for a change, the climate movement is featured in rather positive terms, and not as a marginal phenomenon, as it was often the case before.
But we shouldn’t forget that most of these nonviolent protest movements are taking place in the most developed, wealthy and urban corners of the planet. In an email interview with Edelsin Linette Mendez, a 12-year-old girl who documented climate change from her community in Nicaragua, I simple-mindedly asked her if she had heard of Greta Thunberg. She replied that she hadn’t. The leading figures and powerful voices of the ‘global’ climate movement haven’t yet reached out to the majority of the earth population who lives in the South.
In Issue #9, we want to give space to the communities that are greatly suffering the consequences of ‘our’ lifestyles but won’t make it to the headlines; to the individuals who, like Edelsin, won’t be given a voice in the discussion. They are both the most affected by the climate crisis, and the most active campaigners to save the planet, and their homes.
Hivos connected us with Reginald Saria and Ashura Huruko, two entrepreneurs from rural Tanzania who are fostering productive use of renewable energy to increase productivity. On that theme, we also invited journalist Kimani Chege to talk about how East-African countries are seeking the right energy mix — read their articles in The Beam #9.
“Women’s knowledge, empowerment and collective action are central to building environmentally sustainable pathways to sustainable energy access,” writes Mariama Kamara, who explains how women in Sierra Leone are the invisible force of the energy transition. It’s not just in Sierra Leone that women play an important role in the energy transition. In Senegal, Seynabou is one of many women working to increase energy access and fight gender inequality across Africa. Find out more about their stories in The Beam #9.
“It is time we make indigenous groups part of the decision making in terms of environmental policies but we can’t do so until we treat them with respect and guarantee them a decent standard of living and basic human rights.”
While gender has been increasingly integrated into the context of climate action, gender inequalities are still blatant when it comes to energy access and uses. In Rajasthan and Mexico for instance, “gender inequalities limit women’s access to finance streams, information or training for using sustainable energy sources”.
In an interview in The Beam #9, Mexican designer Fernando Laposse says: “It is time we make indigenous groups part of the decision making in terms of environmental policies but we can’t do so until we treat them with respect and guarantee them a decent standard of living and basic human rights.” This is fundamental. We need to listen to the voices of the real individuals who are truly paying the high cost of the climate breakdown.
This is not about economic growth, markets and profits. It’s about sustaining life on earth. And on that matter, we have a lot to learn from these communities we often look at with indifference or arrogance, and only 12 years left to change everything.
Anne-Sophie Garrigou, Editor-in-Chief, The Beam