Vanessa Nakate. A Bigger Picture: My Fight To Bring A New African Voice to the Climate Crisis. One Boat / Pan Macmillan, 2021. (253 pages)
This may be one of the first books I’ve read in which I truly felt a sense of honor. Part memoir and part manifesto, A Bigger Picture gives the reader (and especially a Western reader) exactly that, a bigger picture; in Nakate’s words (below), a “wider frame” by which we view and understand the climate emergency. The “new African voice” is one of synthesis, highlighting so clearly how racism, sexism, and economic inequality are at the heart of the fight against climate change. To forget this is to be delinquent in our efforts at creating a more just world. Our global ecological crisis is not simply one of “environmentalism,” but is one of humanity, and it is the fullness of our humanness that we are attentive to in our efforts to mitigate the climate crisis. What “man” has torn asunder, may activists like Vanessa Nakate (et. al.) join back together.
I first heard of Vanessa through COP26, the United Nations Climate Conference in November, 2021. Here (in addition to other videos as well) is her speech which is worth watching in full:
They hadn’t just cropped me out, I realized. They’d cropped out a whole continent. (2)
Africa is the least emitter of carbons, but we are the most affected by the climate crisis.
A planet that’s 2°C hotter is a death sentence for countries like Uganda. (3)
…while governments have been telling us to follow the science on the coronavirus, they have not been following the science on climate change. (6)
Even though the climate forecasts are terrifying, I still believe we can have hope. We have to. There isn’t any other option. The pandemic has shown that (some) leaders can listen to the science, the international community can act together with a common purpose., no matter how disturbing the present and future may appear, we have neither the time nor the luxury to shut down emotionally, especially those of us who live in countries where the climate crisis is a daily reality. (8)
| The stakes could not be higher: unless we take dramatic action now, whatever plans any of us have for the future—whether big or small—will fail. So, join me and some of the many young climate activists in Africa and around the world who are working right now to change that future. Let’s fight toether for what is right what is just. (8)
1 Finding My Cause
…the World Meteorological Association calculated there was a 20 percent chance that the global temperature would increase by 1.5°C as soon as 2024 (12)
2 Striking Out
…as climate activists have made clear, the point of our strikes is not simply to raise awareness among other citizens, it’s to push for ambitious, systemic change in government policies, private sector behavior, and investments. (27)
I loved the fact that FFF activists were seeking to take control of their future demanding to be heard. They were also asking fundamental questions about education: If adults weren’t following the facts and not telling the truth about the climate crisis, what was the point of education in the first place? If knowledge didn’t lead to action, and the future that education was meant to prepare you for was being mortgaged by the same people who were telling you to go to school, then why not take to the streets to ensure there was a future rather than sit in a classroom? (37-38)
I’m not immune to the messages many young girls and women receive that we should be quiet and not put ourselves forward as spokespeople or decision-makers. We’re encouraged or expected to cede our voices and authority to boys or men. Too many of us listen to those voices inside us, and those that might come from our peer group, that tell us we shouldn’t speak out or stand up for what we believe in. (44)
3 COP Out
Yet I couldn’t shake off my unease. As one of the few African activists at the Youth Climate Summit, I wished I’d had a chance to speak about our continent’s realities. I’d hoped to learn firsthand from experienced activists and my climate heroes, instead of seeing them across a conference room or behind barricades. I’d felt lonely and isolated even amid the city’s crowds and the climate marchers, and the pressure of keeping to the tiny budget I had in that strange, enormous city by myself weighed on me. (52)
…it’s my firm opinion that the time for deference and patience on the climate crisis is over. We can no longer assume that a well-meaning attitude or a slow adjustment of policies or a slight shift in production is sufficient. (59)
What I learned at COP 25 would help me sustain and expand my activism and education projects when I returned home in mid-December. As I left Madrid, I resolved to apply more pressure to the fossil fuels industry and the forces speeding deforestation. I also thought more about issues of representation that I’d reflected on in New York. While there were a number of activists from the Global South at COP 25, there were many more from the Global North, and it struck me there should be parity at all future climate conferences. (59)
I’ve come to appreciate that even though you may be protesting alone, you cannot anticipate your effect on others, whether they’re in front of you or online. I found out I truly was part of a global movement and that when there is unity and coordination, we can do more and have more of an impact. (60)
I discovered firsthand how valuable it is to meet together (which, of course, the pandemic made impossible ), because human connection and shared space are irreplaceable. I saw how people of all ages care passionately about the climate crisis and are confronting the same frustrations and challenges I am. And I understood how important it was to learn from them, be in solidarity with them, and be inspired by them. Their struggles were my struggles; my victories were theirs, and theirs were mine. (60)
4 Crop Out
A photo had been taken of the five of us standing together. But when it was published by the AP, I—the only non-white activist—had been cropped out. (68)
You didn’t just erase a photo. You erased a continent.
…the AP Had not only removed my photo but removed me from the list of participants. (70)
But reacting with anger and emotion to racism isn’t ridiculous. Injustices have to be called out. If you express your feelings, I see no reason why that lessens the reality or the truth of the injustice. (72)
…to speak out is to risk a lot. (78)
Being cropped out of that photo changed me. I became bolder and more direct in how I talk about the climate crisis and racism and how I articulate the many ways families are being impacted right now It also changed how I thought about my career. … I decided, from my perspective as a young African woman, that I would dedicate as much of my time as possible to addressing the many interlocking facets of the climate crisis, environmental justice, and gender discrimination—and to do so without apology or fear of erasure. (78)
5 We Are All Africa
A fire in the Congo rainforest is as destructive as a fire in the Amazon, yet one was making news headlines, the other wasn’t. (86)
“They were friends or family before,” she says. “Now they are killing each other for these resources, and some, who don’t want to, join terrorist organizations, or are still dreaming of going to Europe. Some will lose their lives on the open sea and some will try to find another place in other African countries.” (92)
I see my role in climate activism as bringing up conversations that many people have never had, and highlighting the destructive policies and investments of banks, hedge funds, multinational corporations, and governments—all of which would like the rest of us to have no idea what they’re up to. I see my task as drawing attention to communities that people may not have heard of, where lives are being upended and lost on a daily basis. (96)
| No country, no matter where, is just a country. What happens in the Congo Basin rainforest doesn’t just affect people in countries in central Africa; it influences weather patterns across the world. The climate crisis respects no geopolitical borders, political bloc, or regional trade associations. So, what happens in the Congo isn’t just the business of the Congolese, or their neighbors. It concerns all of us. (96)
A Greener Uganda
Chimps near Lake Albert in western Uganda, starved of the fruits they’d normally eat, as their forest habitat dwindles and agriculture expands, have been drawn to forage in local people’s fields. Some have attacked and even killed young children. It’s a tragedy for everyone. As biodiverse habitat is destroyed or encroached upon by human settlements, wild animals come into contact with humans—raising the potential for transmission of disease, as with Ebola or HIV / AIDS. (101)
This was not the only benefit. The children would eat regular cooked meals, enabling them to concentrate more in their lessons. They’d no longer have to gather firewood to bring to school the next day to stoke the oven. Not needing to purchase so much firewood would mean the school could spend money on other supplies, fewer trees would have to be cut down, and GHGs would be reduced. The school would be a more secure and safer place because of the extra light. And the school chef would be preparing food in a less smoky environment. (110)
[via: Yes! Clean, renewable energy has multiple compounding benefits! I love this story!]
…right now, every energy strategy is a weighing of alternatives over which impact is the least damaging in terms of GHG emissions—and it’s obvious that solar and wind are much better options than continuing to use fossil fuels for electricity, transportation, and industry. (112)
[via: This is an important concession.]
Plastic…is not just an accidental outcome of people’s choices. It’s the result of corporate governmental decisions. (118)
More than one-third of GHGs are generated by the global food system and the livestock sector alone is responsible for at least 14.5 percent of GHGs. (119)
7 Speaking Out for Women and Girls
Around the world, more than 130 million girls aren’t in school and should be. If they had the chance, how many of these young women could be teachers, lawyers, doctors, NGO staffers, members of parliament, or climate scientists? (123)
| I think of it like this: girls and women are more than half the world’s population. If we are to successfully address the climate crisis, we need women in the rooms where decisions are being made that affect the climate (and almost all decisions now do). Educating girls brings them into those rooms, and expands the number and approaches of possible decision-makers and solutions. (123)
cf. Project Drawdown
School should not simply be about “study, do your exams, pass.” It should give us the tools and information to make decisions about our future. (129)
As well as programs to support formal girls’ education in Africa and every country where there’s a need (and there are many), I’d like more programs for adult women that teach them skills and allow them to believe that even if they’ve not finished school and have given birth at a young age, they can still be heard. They can still take a stand. They can still have dreams. There are still possibilities. (131)
* * *
In addition to educating girls and embedding climate change in curricula, we need to recognize that gender equality and women’s rights are crucial to solving the climate crisis. (131)
Research by Amnesty International, among others, has found that women, and especially women of color, receive much more harassment and abuse on social media than men. (133)
The UNFCCC (the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change ) itself says that climate change “is recognized as a serious aggravator of gender-based violence,” including domestic abuse and discrimination against communities of Indigenous Peoples, and in the context of sexual and reproductive health. (137)
countries with the highest level of violence towards women have something in common. They have a low rate of women[s] education. —1Million Activist Stories
I want millions of girls and women to believe they can be anything they want to be, and that they can change the world. If they don’t, like a team with half its players sitting out the game, we’ll all lose. So will the Earth. (142)
8 Rise Up for Justice
We can’t wait for money to step into this room for climate justice. Youth need to step up and step in, and demand a secure future. —Adenike Oladosu
The Global North has to widen the frame. (144)
We all want to feel welcomed and appreciated by our peers. I can testify how important it’s been to feel seen in the climate justice movement. But no movement—especially one in which the survival of the planet is at stake—can rely on a handful of “rock stars” or “heroes.” Nor should it. We need people of all ages races, with the widest possible range of skills, from every socioeconomic background, and from everywhere on Earth to become involved. Just as there isn’t just one activist, or “correct” way to be an activist, so limiting the climate movement to one age group or one form of protest or one part of the globe is to reduce the scope of the potential and power of our collective energy, skills, and voices — and to underestimate the urgent challenges we face. (146)
There’s still a form of white supremacy that operates in Uganda, and elsewhere I’m sure, because as Africans we have been told to think that white people are above us and we are down below. (151)
Today in Uganda, an independent Black majority country, there’s a fascination with whiteness and a privileging of it that I’ve known my whole life. When I was growing up, if kids saw a white person on the street, we’d all get really excited. It was as if we’d seen an angel or something otherworldly—and good. Even now, if you see a Black friend or a Black stranger walking with a white person, it seems almost impossible. People will ask, in disbelief, “How did you become her (or his) friend?” We’ve also seen this privilege play out in restaurants, shops, and malls in Kampala, when white people may get served ahead of Black Ugandans or be treated in what appears to be a more courteous manner. (152)
I learned about Ella’s story in December 2020. That’s when the international media reported that a UK court had, for the first time in British history, allowed air pollution to be recorded as the cause of someone’s death. The coroner noted that the area of southeast London where Ella lived, Lewisham, had levels of nitrogen dioxide higher than European Union or World Health Organization guidelines. Nitrogen dioxide, which contributes to toxic ground-level ozone, is a by-product of car engines that run on diesel. (154)
But much of the climate crisis is invisible. We can’t see the planet warming or the GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions in the atmosphere. Some people say that if we could—if, for example GHGs were purple—they’d be much harder to ignore and as a consequence we’d have more sustained climate action. (154)
London has some of the most polluted air in Europe, and the costs to public health, at £10.32 billion (US $14.3 billion), are the highest in Europe. Europe overall doesn’t do much better: the public health costs of air pollution across 432 cities on the continent amounted to €1,276 per person (£i,ioo / US $i,52o) or €166 billion per year. In 2016, it was calculated that air pollution lowered Egypt’s GDP by 3.58 percent or US $17 billion a year, and Chinese researchers concluded that reducing air pollution would save their country 60 billion yuan (US $9.22 billion) a year in health-care spending. The Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air has estimated that the cost to public health of air pollution is at least US $8 billion a day (or 3.3 percent of global GDP). Indeed, the economic expense in lost work time, medical care, curtailed lives added up to US $2.9 trillion in 2018 alone. (155)
Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah was Black. Neither wealthy nor well-connected, she and her family lived in an economically disadvantaged area of London. Her neighborhood is crisscrossed, as many low-income urban areas are, by highways packed with traffic. It’s important that we ask ourselves, if Ella had been rich and white, would she have had to live with and die from such severely polluted air, and would it have taken seven years after her death for the coroner to issue his report? (157)
“We cannot eat coal and we cannot drink oil” is a message I’ve used a lot in my climate strikes and in my speeches. On the one hand, this is an obvious point about our skewed priorities and failure to ensure basic needs throughout the world. But this slogan is also a literal description of what billions of people like Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah are doing every day: inhaling and ingesting fossil fuels in particulate matter, poisoned water, and through microplastics—especially if they are poor, or Black, or both. (160)
When you think about the terrible inequalities, racism, and manifest injustices embedded in the climate crisis, what is the nature of a system that supports these inequities and accepts the devastating consequences of continuing to burn fossil fuels? And how can it be maintained? It is a system of extractive and unregulated capitalism that privileges the needs and concerns of wealthy countries, and wealthier populations within those countries, who are wealthier precisely because the natural resources of the poorer countries, and their inhabitants, have enriched them. This system would rather destroy the planet for the benefit of the few rather than preserve it for the many. It’s founded on greed and exploitation rather than the well-being of the human family and even creation as a whole. It’s a system where the costs of the unsustainable lifestyle of the few are borne by the many: in financial terms, in respect to their physical and mental welfare, and in their very future. It enables a privileged minority to be free by constraining possibilities for the rest. (160)
I think of our current situation as a game a chess. Some of us may have been born as pawns, some as knights, some as rooks. Some of us may even be queens, with a much wider range of movement. But none of us has autonomy: we’re all pieces on the board of a game that none of us chose to play. We’re all playthings for people who have no interest in our well-being. They are simply trying to beat their opponent. We may be sacrificed; we may capture other pieces. But we cannot escape from the board; we cannot change how we move. (162)
| What the world is now realizing is that the control the master chess players believe they have is an illusion. Nature is in charge of the game. The grandmasters are, in fact, the king on the chessboard when checkmate is declared: trapped, unable to make another move. (162)
| The time for illusions is over. End of game. (162)
9 Forecast: Emergency
The 17 Sustainable Development Goals
- No Poverty: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
- Zero Hunger: End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture
- Good Health and Well-being: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
- Quality Education: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
- Gender Equality: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
- Clean Water and Sanitation: Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
- Affordable and Clean Energy: Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all
- Decent Work and Economic Growth: Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all
- Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure: Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation
- Reduced Inequalities: Reduce inequality within and among countries
- Sustainable Cities and Communities: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable
- Responsible Consumption and Production: Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
- Climate Action: Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts
- Life Below Water: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development
- Life on Land: Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, and halt biodiversity loss
- Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels
- Partnerships for the Goals: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
Earth has a fever, but people have different temperatures, depending on who they are and where they live. We’re all sick, but those who are suffering less should help those who are suffering more. (171)
…we climate activists favor the term climate emergency. The word emergency accurately describes our predicament also accurately directs the urgency with which governments should approach any policy or action. (172)
[via: It is also commensurate with bureaucratic usage, as in “State of Emergency.”]
Any honest reading of that science must lead all those in power to accept the fundamental injustice that Africa faces: that those most severely affected by the climate crisis now, and who will be disproportionately affected in coming decades, live in countries and regions whose contribution to GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions are minimal compared to those of the largest emitters. That means that financial mechanisms, development policies, and economic structures need to confront the historical and ongoing injustice of the exploitation of our nonrenewable resources, and take responsibility for generating real solutions for survival. (173)
Secondly , we need a new definition of development. For many institutions and industries in the Global South, “development” means what governments in the Global North have been practicing for two centuries: fossil fuel-based industrialization at the expense of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat, and the natural world. (174)
Perhaps this is why African governments are currently doubling down on their commitment to fossil fuels. According to an article in Forbes magazine about a report published in Nature Today, “by 2030, [Africa’s] energy generation capacity could rise from 236 gigawatts to 472 gigawatts, with just 9.6% generated from renewable energy sources not including hydropower. Fossil fuels, the authors found, would account for 62% of total capacity.” (175)
| More than 200 power plants are planned for the continent, with the majority of them using coal. Indeed, the Guardian reports, “Power ships—vast floating power stations, some burning highly polluting bunker oil—are already moored in Ghana, Sierra Leone Mozambique.” The Russian Government is seeking to construct a one-thousand-mile (more than sixteen hundred kilometers) pipeline carrying gasoline, diesel, and kerosene through the Congo rainforest, from the port of Pointe Noire to Maloukou in the Republic of Congo. This will lead to more deforestation and pollution. (175)
[via: AAAAAARGH! WTF!?]
First, multinational bodies such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Union have to redirect financing away from extraction and fossil fuels toward renewables and mitigation. (176)
The second action is to reeducate ourselves about what we mean by “development.” To avoid total collapse, we must move away from quarterly growth statements, GDP metrics, endless material possessions, and a throwaway culture, toward supportive life systems, drinkable water, breathable air, and vibrant biodiversity. This entails no more logging or road construction in the forests, shelving oil and gas pipelines, conserving wetlands, and stopping the dredging of rivers and beaches for sand. It means preserving indigenous trees and old-growth forests; halting conversion of land to tree, oil palm, or soybean plantations; and ending land grabbing and corruption. The IPCC’s report for Africa offers some other useful suggestions: supporting conservation agriculture, including “conservation tillage, contouring and terracing, and mulching,” as well as “farmer-managed natural tree regeneration.” (179)
Achieving good governance depends on the third essential ingredient for Africa’s future: leadership. Leadership requires facing the truth about the climate emergency, no matter how unpalatable, and being honest about what needs to be done—before catastrophes occur. (181)
Leadership also means empowering people to reject fatalism. (181)
Leadership also means promoting medium- and long-term benefits over expediency. (182)
The Global North has an essential role to play too—and a historical and ethical obligation to lead and provide adequate financial resources. (182)
Just as there’s no future in Africa recycling the waste or offsetting the pollution of the industrialized world, we don’t want to become the junkyard of the old technologies of an irresponsible Global North. Responsible governance means recognizing that if any of us are to address the climate crisis adequately, then we must include everyone. (183)
* * *
It is this generation—our generation—upon which the future of my country and our world depends, and it’s not a matter of whether we take power, but when. The gerontocracy that’s ruled for too long, with its old ways of doing things, its old energies and old conflicts, and its old assumptions about progress and development, is passing away. It has brought the planet to its knees, and the time has come for all of us on behalf of Earth to rise up. We can’t be complacent. Instead, all of us have to organize, share, amplify, and vote the right leaders into power: the ones who understand that the era of indecision and ignoring science is over. Our house is on fire. There’s no more time to waste. (184)
10 What Can I Do?
One: Find Your Passion and Love
Two: Educate Yourself
THree: Find Your People
Four: Share and Connect
Five: Speak Out…
Seven: Be Creative and Take Care of Yourself
Eight: Be the Change You Want to See in the World
Nine: Think Globally and Intersectionally
Finally, my faith in God has sustained me, as has my pastor, Apostle Grace Lubega, who has taught me so much about the Word of God. Activism can be very hard and prayer and attending services (or, in Covid times, watching online) have been extremely important sources of love, grace, and support. My faith offers guidance so I can persevere and reminds me to love everyone—and this has aided greatly in my continuing to speak up for the millions of people in Uganda and around the world who are living the climate emergency right now. (204)
Appendix 1 — MY Letter to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris
Dear Madam Kamala Harris and Mr. Joe Biden
I am not really sure whether you will read this but I hope that you do. My name is Vanessa Nakate. I am 23 years old. Congratulations to both of you. I am a climate activist from Uganda who is worried about the present and the future. Are you going to do everything you must to fight the climate crisis? I ask because I really need to know. Climate change is affecting many people’s livelihoods in my country, especially children, girls, and women. Are you on our side? I would like to know. All we really want is a livable and healthy planet, an equitable and sustainable present and future. Is that too much to ask? Not to destroy our only home and have a small group of people benefit from our pain and suffering. Let’s do all we must to protect our planet and have everybody happy too.
P.S. Please write back. (206)
Appendix 2 — Resources
As A Bigger Picture demonstrates, my voice is one among many youth climate activists across the world who are calling for massive, systemic, rapid change. Below, I’ve listed social media handles and websites for the organizations and activists I’ve written about in A Bigger Picture. I’ve learned so much from them (along with others), I would urge you to follow them on social media, visit their websites, support their campaigns, and amplify their voices. Of course, this list only represents some of the organizations and people standing up for equity, justice, and genuine sustainability. (207)
I’ve also included other books by or featuring climate activists, and some slogans from my strikes as well as those of other climate strikers, which you can use or adapt. In addition, I’ve provided selected existing social media hashtags so you can connect with this global movement for change—and become, like me, and millions of others around the world, a climate activist.
T: Twitter; IG: instagram: F: Facebook; W: Web
Green Schools Initiative (W: http://www.gofundme.com/f/green-schools-with-vash)
1Million Activist Stories (T: 1MillionActiv1; IG: amillionactiviststories; W: riseupmovementafrica.org)
Rise Up Movement (T: TheRiseMovem1; IG: riseupmovement1)
Vanessa Nakate (T: vanessa_vash; IG: vanessanakate1)
350.org (T: 350; IG: 350.org; W: 350.org)
350 Africa (T: 350Africa; IG: 350africa; W: 350africa.org)
Act on Sahel (T: ActonSahel; IG: #actonsahel; F: ActOnSahel W: actonsahel.net)
Arctic Angels (T: GCArcticAngels; IG: gcarcticangels; W: globalchoices.org/arctic-angels)
Arctic Basecamp (T: ArcticBasecamp; IG: arctic.basecamp; W: arcticbasecamp.org)
Avaaz (T: Avaaz; IG: avaaz_org; F: Avaaz; W: avaaz.org/page/en)
Black Lives Matter (IG: blklivesmatter; W: blacklivesmatter.org)
Congo Enviro Voice (T: CongoEnviroVoice; W: congoenvirovoice.wixsite.com/congobasin)
Earth Uprising (T: Earth_Uprising; IG: earth_uprising; W: earthuprising.org)
EET: Eleven-Eleven-Twelve Foundation (W: eetfoundation.org)
Fridays For Future (T: Fridays4future; IG: fridaysforfuture; W: fridaysforfuture.org)
Green Generation Initiative (T: Green Generation Initiative (GGI); IG: ggi_kenya; F: GGI.Kenya; W: greengenerationinitiative.org)
Greenpeace International (T: Greenpeace; IG: greenpeace; F: greenpeace.international; W: greenpeace.org)
LevelUpWomen (T: LevelUpWomen) #AfricaOptimism
Uganda For Her (IG: uganda4her; F: Uganda4Her; W: uganda4her.org)
UNICEF (T: UNICEF; IG: unicef; W: unicef.org)
UNFCCC (T: UNFCCC; IG: unclimatechange; W: unfccc.int)
UN Women (T: UN_Women; IG: unwomen; W: unwomen.org/en)
Wangari Maathai Foundation (T: WangariMaathai; IG: wangari_maathai; W: wangarimaathai.org)
Zero Hour (T: thisiszerohour; IG: thisiszerohour; W: thisiszerohour.org)
Climate Activists Interviewed for This Book
Evelyn Acham (T: eve_chantel; IG: evechantelle; F: Evelyn Acham) is a passionate climate justice activist from Uganda. She organizes climate strikes with Rise Up Movement where she works as a national coordinator. She’s part of Fridays For Future, the international movement of school students striking for bold climate action. She is also an Arctic Angel for Global Choices, a youth-led intergenerational action network. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Land Economics from Makerere University.
Deniz Çevikus (T: CevikusHB; IG: deniz.cevikus; F: deniz4future; W: denizcevikus.com) is a thirteen-year-old climate activist activist from Istanbul, Turkey. She began researching the climate crisis in 2018, influenced by Greta Thunberg. In March 2019, she decided to join the Fridays For Future movement, and has been school striking for climate every Friday since then. She’s extremely fond of animals and rescued and adopted a tabby cat off the streets.
Cristian Esteban Martelo Ramírez (T: martelocris; IG: martelocris; F: Cristian Martelo Ramirez) is a Colombian environmental activist, focused on the problems of global warming and how it influences the ocean.
Elijah Mckenzie-Jackson (T: Elijahmckenzee; IG: ElijahMc-kenzieJackson) is a seventeen-year-old climate justice activist based in London, England. Elijah fights for environmental equity, social liberation, and decolonization, as the root of the climate crisis stems from decades of racism and exploitation of the natural world belonging to marginalized communities.
Veronica Mulenga (IG: earth warrior) is a climate and environmental justice activist from Zambia.
Hilda Flavia Nakabuye (T: NakabuyeHilda; IG: nakabuye hildaflavia; F: Nakabuye Hilda Flavia) is a Ugandan climate and environmental rights activist. The founder of Fridays For Future Uganda, she leads lakeshore cleanup activity on Lake Victoria to preserve water resources and beat plastic pollution. Her passion for nature drives her to create change in her community and globally. She has mobilized and inspired many people to join the global fight for climate justice.
Leah Namugerwa (T: NamugerwaLeah; IG: namugerwaleah; F: namugerwa.leah.3) is a seventeen-year-old Ugandan climate and children’s rights activist, and team leader of Fridays For Future and the Save Bugoma Forest campaign.
Adenike Titilope Oladosu (T: the_ecofeminist; IG: an_ ecofeminist; W: womenandcrisis.com) is a first-class graduate of Agricultural Economics, an ecofeminist, and the first Fridays For Future climate striker in Africa. She specializes in peace, security, and equality in Africa, especially the Lake Chad region. Adenike is the founder of ILeadClimate and has showcased her climate action in international forums. She has been awarded the highest human rights award by Amnesty International Nigeria for her fight for climate justice.
Kaossara Sani (T: KaoHua3; IG: kaohua3; W: kaossarasani. com) is a peace and climate activist from Togo. She is founder of the Africa Optimism Initiative and cofounder of the Act on Sahel movement.
Aarav Seth (T: AaravSeth; IG: aaravseth_; F: aarav.seth.5454; W: aaravseth.wordpress.com) is a twelve-year-old student activist from Delhi, India. He is the founder of Sunday4 SecuredFuture (which encourages young climate activists to take at least one climate action each Sunday), Helping Hand (which encourages people to donate clothes, books, and shoes to underprivileged children), and She Hygiene (which distributes sanitary pads to girls who cannot afford to buy this basic necessity). He has started a podcast series #RingTheBell (https://anchor.fm/aarav-seth.) to make people aware of climate issues.
Kaime Silvestre Silva Oliveira (T: kaimesilvestres; IG: kaimesilvestre; F: kaime.silvestre) is a Brazilian climate activist and human rights lawyer. Born in the Amazon, he relentlessly advocates for humanitarian action and for protection of the Amazon, its wildlife, and the people who depend on it.
Roman Stratkötter (T: stratkoetter) is an activist who has been striking for SaveCongoRainforest on Twitter since March 19, 2020. He is also an activist for #SaveBugomaForest, AfricalsNotADumpster, freeNavalny, SaveSahel, StopShell, PeaceUponYemen, WithDrawTheCap, IStandWithTheFarmers, LeilãoFÓssilNão/EndFossilFuels, BlackLivesMatter, and loveislove.
Leah Thomas (T: Leahtommi; IG: greengirlleah; F: intersectional-environmentalist; W: intersectionalenvironmentalist.com) is an intersectional environmental activist and eco-communicator based in Southern California. She’s passionate about advocating for and exploring the relationship between social justice and environmentalism and is the founder of the Intersectional Environmentalist Platform.
Elizabeth Wathuti (T: lizwathuti; IG: lizwathuti; F: lizmazin-gira; W: lizmazingira.com) is an environmentalist and climate activist from Kenya, and the Founder of Green Generation Initiative. She is currently the Head of Campaigns and the Daima Green Spaces Coalition Coordinator at the Maathai Foundation. Elizabeth received the Wangari Maathai Scholarship Award from the Green Belt Movement, the Kenya Community Development Foundation, and Rockefeller Foundation in 2016. She has also served as the Chairperson of Kenyatta University Environmental Club and holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and Community Development from Kenyatta University.
Climate Activists Mentioned in This Book
Isabelle Axelsson (T: isabelle_ax; IG: isabelleax_)
Xiye Bastida (T: xiyebastida; IG: xiyebeara)
Sascha Blidorf (T: SascharBlidorf; IG: saschablidorf)
Connor Childs (W: plasticfreecayman.com/youth-action)
Chibeze Ezekiel (T: chibeze1; IG: chibezei)
Brianna Fruean (T: Brianna_Fruean; IG: briannafruean)
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim (T: hindououmar; IG: hindououma)
Eva Jones (I: evaastrid37)
Licypriya Kangujam (T: LicypriyaK; IG: licypriyakangujam)
Elizabeth Gulugulu Machache (T: lizgulaz; IG: lizgulaz)
Arshak Makichyan (T: MakichyanA; IG: makichyan.arshak)
Jamie Margolin (T: Jamie_Margolin; IG: jamie_s_margolin)
Steff Mcdermot (W: plasticfreecayman.com/author/steffmcdermot)
Ndoni Mcunu (T: ndonimcunu; IG: ndonimcunu; W: ndonimcunu.com)
Ayakha Melithafa (T: AyakhaMelithafa; IG: ayakhamelithafa)
Nyombi Morris (T: mnyomb1; IG: mnyomb1)
Makenna Muigai (T: MakennaMuigai)
Natasha Mwansa (T: TashaWangMwansa; IG: natashamwansa)
Joan & Clare (T: joanandclare1; IG: joan.and.clare)
Luisa Neubauer (T: Luisamneubauer; IG: luisaneubauer)
Sadrach Nirere (T: SadrachNirere; IG: sadrachnirere)
Disha Ravi (T: disharavii; IG: disharavii)
Davis Reuben Sekamwa (T: davisreuben3; IG: davisreuben9.0)
Sasha Shugai (T: sasha_shuga; IG: sashashu ; W: linktr.ee/sashashugai)
Greta Thunberg (T: gretathunberg; IG: gretathunberg)
Loukina Tille (T: loukinatille; IG: loukinatille)
Amelia “Lia” Tuifua (F: Lia Tuifua)
Alexandria Villaseñnor (T: AlexandriaV2005; T: Earth_ Uprising; IG: alexandriav2005)
Brix and Max Whiteman-Muller (F: dirk_dirkman.5)
Remy Zahiga (T: Remy_Zahiga; IG: remyzahiga)
Wenying Zhu (T: Wenying_Z)
Olivia Zimmer (W: plasticfreecayman.com/youth-action)
Books and Documentaries
Hammond, Mel. Love the Earth: Understanding Climate Change, Speaking Up for Solutions, and Living an Earth-Friendly Life (New York: American Girl, 2020).
Hill, Jordan (dir). Greta Thunberg: Rebel with a Cause (2020).
Johnson, Ayana Elizabeth, Katharine K. Wilkinson (eds). All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis (New York: One World, 2020).
Maathai, Wangari. The Challenge for Africa (New York: Vintage, 2008).
——. Unbowed: A Memoir (New York: Vintage, 2006).
Margolin, Jamie. Youth to Power: Your Voice and How to Use It (New York: Hachette, 2020).
Thunberg, Greta. No One Is Too Small to Make a Difference (New York: Penguin, 2018/19).