fighting apathy in our generation
As individuals, we can’t afford to not care. We are intrinsically linked to our neighbours and our earth – our identity is inescapably linked to our families, our communities and our earth. Climate change cuts across all social, graphical and economic divides and will impact every home, every school, and every business. It is in everyone’s interest and that of future generations to address the impacts of climate change in whatever capacity they can.In a country where HIV/Aids, poverty and unemployment are much more tangible concerns, why should we care about climate change?
It would be very unhelpful and backward to pretend climate change is more important than addressing HIV/Aids, poverty and unemployment. The truth is that by addressing climate change AND all other identified challenges, we can develop sustainable solutions that are resilient to the inevitable impacts of climate change. Mainstreaming climate change, like we have done for equality will ensure that the efforts to solve for HIV/Aids, poverty and unemployment will not be wasted.
Local is Lekker
The most productive you are likely to be is in your own home and among your own friends and colleagues. The common misconception about being environmentally responsible is that you have to give up all your luxuries and live like hippies, stop eating meat, and say goodbye to travelling abroad. While it is true that we need to sacrifice some things, be assured that luxury and wealth are not disconnected from responsible living. From the Cuban example, and growing research into the “happy planet index” suggest that there’s only so much happiness one can derive from having, spending or consuming more. People in Cuba with limited access to imported state of the art gadgets and fashion and who consume less are as happy if not more happy than people in America for instance, who have everything and more. BioRegional has developed ten principles to promote healthy happy living within a fare share of the earth’s resources – it’s called ONE Planet Living.
So what’s the fuss about COP17?
In my opinion, the international negotiations on climate change hosted in Durban in 2011 have generated the much needed fuss about COP17 to raise the profile of climate change issues and the awareness of locals.
Personally, I don’t have much faith in multi-laterlism because realistically, the influential international delegates operate with their hands tied to political and financial interests in this economic climate and there is just too much money to be made out of the process – whether it is green washing or carbon intensive economies. However, each of them were also children once upon a time; many of them are also parents and cannot disassociate with their communities because I believe we are inextricably linked to each other and the earth. I can only hope that as Africans we lead the way with what it means to have uBuntu and to take responsibility for our earth, neighbours and future generations. If the delegates arrive as delegates and leave as brothers, no matter what the outcome, we as Africans will have done much to advance the negotiations for our planet, people and future, after which profit will surely follow.
I expect the 7th Conference of the Youth (COY7) to be a high energy event for local and international youth alike, and a lot of fun. I think we will be constantly surprised by how much the youth know and how brave and courageous we are! When there’s not much to lose there is lots to gain.