By Luchulumanco Nanto
On Saturday, 20 November 2021, Activators from the Western Cape province gathered at Philippi Village for the first instalment of the annual Climate Change Imbizo. The Imbizo was held in collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature, Youth@SAIIA and Democracy Works Foundation. The six-hour-long Imbizo critically analysed climate change and the work done by the civil society, business, private and public sectors in creating awareness about climate change and the role of the youth in changing the status quo.
The Imbizo was facilitated by Luchulumanco Nanto and Mercy Dube, both Activators operating within the Environmental Affairs and Climate Change sectors. It included presentations from Gugu Nonjinge, Political Communication Specialist; Wandile Jonas, Youth Lead Mentor: Project 90×30; Celiwe Shivambu, Youth@SAIIA Project Lead: National Youth Climate Action Plan; Innocentia Modua, Project Manager: World Wide Fund for Nature; Siphelele Chirwa, CEO Activate!; and Goosain Issacs: Directorate of Climate Change.
Nkokheli Mankayi, an Activate Project Coordinator, stated that the Imbizo is aimed at addressing youth participation in climate change while looking at collaboration. “This is the first instalment we have of the Imbizo, and we aim to have it annually and to ensure that the youth is not left behind and is spearheading climate change.” He further added.
“If we don’t address the issue of climate change, the next generation will face harsh realities,” said Gugu Nonjinge, who was the keynote speaker. This statement was later supported by Siphelele Chirwa, who added that “we need to personalise this issue. Let us not speak about the earth as if it is something far from us. It is our home. Let us address it as such and call it home whenever we speak of it. In doing so, more people will start to understand the seriousness of the issue”.
The National Youth Climate Action Plan, a document that consists of 5 pillars aimed at addressing Climate Change was one of the many documents discussed at the Imbizo. The document was drafted in consultation with 200 youth-led organisations and individuals from ages 13-30. This initiative was led by Youth@SAIIA. The document acknowledges that for us to bring about positive change in the current status quo, we then need to tackle climate change through intersectionality, advocacy and activism, good governance, systematic transformation, and environmental sustainability. These are the pillars of the document. The Imbizo specifically focused on the second pillar, advocacy and activism which consists of education, communication and civil society.
The need to transform and breakdown complex terminologies within climate change is something that often came up in the Imbizo, as the common question was, how do we take this information and share it with the less educated as these terms used here are too large for some of us, particularly those from the rural areas. This question was answered in the three breakaway commissions which look at Fostering Inclusive Growth Through Climate Change; African Regional City Manifesto; Draft Climate Change Response Strategy. Each session critically analysed climate change within its scope and had a special focus. Upon completion, each commission had to report back to the Imbizo on its discussions.
All commission reports came down to six things, the need for collaboration to effectively address climate change; the critical need for an improved climate change curriculum where complex terminologies are broken down and are easy to comprehend; access to proper and true information on climate change; not to window dress the emergency of climate change; active participation is needed from everyone and every organisation to change the status quo; and all leaders who have been entrusted with the responsibility of leading the nation, whether at a local, provincial or national level, must be held accountable for their actions and policies introduced that do not assist us in addressing this growing emergency.
At the end of the Imbizo, there were promises of future collaborations between Activate!, World Wide Fund for Nature and Democracy Works Foundation. The World Wide Fund for Nature had also revealed that it currently has an open vacancy for interested individuals who hold a postgraduate degree related to environmental affairs. Interested parties may apply through LinkedIn.