As you read this, 160 committed young people are travelling by bus from Kenya to South Africa to get their voices heard on climate justice.
The YMCA delegation of 80 is part of a youth caravan travelling for a month through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana, arriving in South Africa just before the UN Summit on Climate Change. In each country the caravan, organized by the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change, will mobilise communities to act for climate justice through concerts, interviews with the media and public meetings.
“The struggle is on” says George Omollo, a caravan participant from Kenya. “It’s not an African struggle, no. It’s not an Asian struggle, no. It’s not a Norwegian struggle, no. This is a world struggle for justice; for climate justice, a struggle for fairness and equity.”
The only global agreement on climate change, the Kyoto Protocol, expires next year. So it is vital that world leaders reach a new agreement at the so-called COP 17 Summit, November 29 – December 9, in Durban. Caravan participants are encouraging creative ways of getting the message of climate justice heard by world leaders. This includes petitions, letters, video messages, documentaries, poems and theatre.
The caravan is part of the “We have Faith – Act now for Climate Justice” campaign which invites the public to sign what they hope will be a multi-million signature petition to be presented to the leaders of COP17. During their first concert in Nairobi this week, caravan participants collected another 9000 signatures for the petition.
An Inter-Faith Rally in Durban, hosted by Bishop Desmond Tutu, and attended by thousands of people, including the Secretary General of the World Alliance of YMCAs. Rev. Johan Vilhelm Eltvik, will be the culmination of the caravan.
Ayanda Mabanga from the Africa Alliance of YMCAs is in no doubt that the long trip through Africa will be worth it. “Over 160 young people with different strong personalities, in a small space, exhausted, with the world constantly watching our every move. It will be tough, it will be gruelling but at the end of the day it is for a life saving cause. That is what’s motivating us.”
To sign the petition and find out more about the climate justice campaign, visit http://www.wehavefaithactnow.org/ or the We Have Faith – Act Now for Climate Justice” community on Facebook.