Vanessa Nakate, who is the Ugandan activist symbol of environmentalist Africa who calls for “climate justice for all”

“We are only responsible 3% of global emissions of Co2, but we suffer a lot more the consequences“. Per Vanessa Nakate – the activist 24enne which moved the participants in the Youth for Climate from Milano – the fight against climate change has always been one racial issue. L’East Africa, where is theUganda – where the young woman was born and lives -, last January she suffered one of the worst invasions of desert locuste of the last 25 years old. One of the most visible crises of a vulnerable continent, in which around 2021 300 thousand people have already been affected by floods and landslides, in many cases losing their homes and crops. Emergencies that add to the chronic drought of some areas and ai cyclones affecting the southern states. So along with the other environmentalists of the South of the world the young woman decided to speak. “Climate justice cannot be achieved without racial justice. It is not justice if it does not include everyone ”, is one of his most famous slogans.

Daughter of a politician of Kampala, the capital of Uganda, Vanessa Nakate says she has always been encouraged to achieve a “bright future”. He discovered theambientalismo e i Fridays For Future in 2019, after graduating in economics at the Makerere University and decided to follow the model of Greta Thunberg to put pressure on the institutions and scientists of his country. At first, despite wanting to act alone, she was afraid to go down to the streets of her city. So, one Sunday she was accompanied by younger brothers and sisters, Clare, Joan, Paul e Trevor: the five waved, in front of passers-by, signs that read “Nature is life “, “Climate Strike Now” e “When you plant a tree, you plant a forest”Throughout the morning. “I had the feeling that I had wasted so much time, while people were suffering – the activist told some Ugandan newspapers, then reported by the New York Times – At that moment I decided to add my voice to the climate movement ”. Several weeks later, even though her trusted companions had to go to school, she continued on her own.

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Since then, he has participated in almost 60 proteste di Fridays for Future and founded Youth for Future Africa – a movement to increase the awareness of young Africans on the climate crisis – which later turned into the movement Rise Up. He also organized a campaign for the reforestation of the Congo and strikes with students, hanging banners reading “Are you kidding me?“. Among his battles the one againstair pollution in Kampala, the rising of the waters in Victoria Lake and loans to coal oil companies. Her stories and those of the activists who fight with her, in various places on the planet, are collected on the Instagram profile One Million Activist Stories. “It is important to listen to activists from the global South because they represent different communities” has explained.

The photo together with five other activists in Davos (Luisa Neubauer, Greta Thunberg, Isabelle Axelsson and Louis Tille), from which Nakate was excluded

Within a year, his work has attracted the attention of the whole world and a December 2019 was one of the few young people invited to United Nations climate talks in Spain. However, his struggle has not always been easy, and – despite the political problems – not only in Africa. In January 2020 he represented the environmental movements al World Economic Forum of Davos, in Switzerland, together with five other activists – including Greta Thunberg -, all white and western. When theAssociated Press posted the photo of the young women at the event, Vanessa was cut off. “You haven’t just deleted one photo. You have erased a continent”He commented in a 10-minute video on Twitter, in which he denounced the exclusion of black entries and communities most vulnerable by the global climate debate. On social media, the support from thousands of users from all over the world. The news agency apologized in public and in private: the intent – they declared – was only to make a close-up of Greta. It also promised to do more to raise awareness among its journalists on the issue of climate racism, a theme of which the story was in some way emblematic. “Although this incident was so painful, it has changed the story for several activists in the global South – acknowledged Vanessa later – I think that’s what really helped me become what I am today both the fact that I have spoken and that people have replied with the support”.

Now Vanessa defines herself “a fighter for people and the planet”And has become the symbol of all his companions who do not have media visibility and who often suffer disproportionately the consequences of their struggle: like i 227 activists which – according to a report dated 12 September fromong Global witness – they were murdered for their mobilizations during the 2020 in Africa, Asia e America Latina. His book, “A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis“Will be published in November. The outbreak of the pandemic and the closure of Uganda’s borders in the past two years have forced it to fall back on online demonstrations and on social media, where it has more than 333 thousand followers. “The climate crisis has not been quarantined.” However, his efforts are also having concrete effects: the project Green Schools however, it is installing eco-friendly solar panels and stoves in schools throughout his country. “Students are the leaders of tomorrow – he said several times – They are the activists of tomorrow. They are the scientists of tomorrow. They need to know that they can play a role in protecting our environment ”. His greatest hope is that environmental, social and race issues become more and more intertwined, merging into a great global movement: “All I want to see is a happy people and a happy planet“.

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On 27 September, opening the Youth4Climate that precedes Pre Cop 26, led the voice of a continent in suffering – “In Madagascar people are dying of hunger, countries like Uganda, Nigeria, Algeria are suffering more and more from heat and drought. But it’s not just Africa. Let’s think about Caribbean, to those who leave the islands to escape, to the people of the Bangladesh”- but who wants and must act in a targeted manner. “We need financing, not loans, but non-repayable subsidies. Because it’s easy to build roads and open viaducts, but our leaders fail to recognize that losses and damage of the climate crisis they are already here (and are much more important), ”he said. “Action cannot be chosen, we need to face it and not in empty conferences, you only have to wave the money ”. The environmental disasters of these years will cause many climatic migrations and extinctions of animal and plant species and at that point – asks Nakate – “Who will pay?”.

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