It was June 2013. New seeds needed to be planted to help internationalize the climate movement and spark a new generation of leaders with the courage, the skills and the financial support to carry out that work. 350.org saw this need and gathered 500 of the brightest and most energetic young climate activists from over 130 countries in one place: Istanbul, Turkey. It was pure magic, and incredible things happened. They are still happening and will happen again.
We want to take you on a journey back in time to one emblematic moment in our movement's history – to share with you our vision for the future. Helping to build our movement is at the core of what we do at 350.org every day. We have invested in new leadership for years, and will continue to do so – because we know that the only way to truly achieve climate justice is to strengthen, empower and grow the climate movement.
Global Power Shift: Planting Seeds
'Power Shift' gatherings were already happening in national contexts, helping the movement organise locally, but they were often isolated. In 2013, 350.org as an international movement working with brilliant grassroots activists around the world, noticed that they just needed connection to unleash their massive potential. We wanted to build a cleaner and fairer world – and we believed the people we worked with could lead the way. Global Power Shift (GPS) was born to unlock the power of cooperation and global collaboration.
We created a five-track GPS programme, focusing on Policy, Non-Violent Direct Action, Digital Campaigning, Art & Creative Activism and Media & Communications. From 24-30 June, participants built skills, laughed and created art together. They had the chance to hear and learn from the fights of others and share theirs. They plotted and envisioned the next steps to protect our climate. True leadership sprouted and grew strong. To this day, that power keeps flourishing and feeding our movement with energy:
In the months that followed GPS, climate actions and groups spread all over the world. Nearly 100 local GPS events happened in 86 countries and tens of national campaign groups were created. The wave of energy it generated powered the People's Climate Mobilization in 2014, with more than 2,700 events around the world and the biggest Climate March ever recorded until then, happening in New York.
The participants returned home and multiplied the training by planting their own seeds of impact. They brought more people to the movement and followed the paths and passions that most resonated with them. Throughout the years, their leadership has made them trainers, artists, grassroots fighters, scientists, researchers, intersectional activists, policy advocates, and much more.
GPS was an investment in people. We gave them tools and support to grow, we helped them thrive and flourish in their journeys for justice – in the climate movement and elsewhere. We were doing it back then, we've continued doing it in the last decade, and we will keep doing it in the years to come!
Power Up: Catalyzing the Movement
It would be too far a stretch to say that 2015’s Paris climate agreement emerged from that week of training. But the seed metaphor is the right one for a reason: yes, some seeds never take root, while others find their way deep among the grassroots to grow strong and able to produce amazing fruits. The former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (2010-2016), Christiana Figueres, was a keynote speaker at GPS. And she leaves no room for doubt: moments like that build change.
Since GPS in 2013, we have convened many more large movement moments. We organised tens of thousands to Break Free, we supported the burgeoning youth movement and the global Climate Strikes. During the pandemic, we kept the flame alive with a 70,000-person online event called the Global Just Recovering Gathering. Each of these moments was to train and coach and provide inspiration for us to continue.
Through our campaigning and organising efforts, we have pushed to dismantle the fossil fuel industry, and we have won many times. However, stopping big coal, oil and gas is not enough on its own. To achieve true climate justice, we also need to power up renewables! The world will have to build 1.5TW of solar and wind capacity every year by 2030 to keep on track for 1.5 degrees of global heating (three times more than we build now!).
This is the moment to recharge the power of our movement and boost collaboration more than ever – this time focused on building the future we want to see come true. We know the power of synergy, and we know we need to act fast – catalysing the energy that naturally grows in our movement.
A distributed and connected movement is crucial to move at the speed that is needed, incorporating diversity and justice into the solutions we fight for. Like Global Power Shift needed to internationalise the movement, we see parts of the movement needing to learn how to fight for the “yes” even as we keep saying “no” to the bad. Through new training programmes and resources we are helping the movement learn these skills, and we make sure they have the funding to carry out that work with micro-granting for local groups.
We have many exciting plans! We are eager we will soon be able to share with you our plans for another major in-person training coming up in 2024 akin to Global Power Shift. And we will move political and financial power away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources that are good for the people and the planet with upcoming exciting global actions later in 2023. Watch this space!
Let’s catalyse our movement and unlock people’s agency towards creating a future that puts equitable access to renewable energy at the heart of the movement for climate justice.
We are ready to power up – come with us!
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"GPS was one of the most intense and yet most fulfilling projects we’ve organized as 350. It was an enormously complex and dynamic project – from conception to implementation and through to the aftermath, which in many ways carries on to this day. It was well worth the effort, seeing the sheer beauty and power of so many inspiring activist leaders connect from all across the globe and then return home to mobilise and sustain movement building for years to come.”
350's Asia Managing Director
"I was an activist in Taiwan when I joined GPS, and I remember walking around and asking everyone new I met about why they were there. It gave me so much perspective and made me feel like there was a place for me in the climate movement. Also, GPS provided me with the tools and encouragement I needed at that moment, it was a turning point for me – and I still keep my notes from that week and look at them from time to time!"
350's Global Head of Regions
"Initiatives like GPS are crucial for new leadership to flourish. It was at that very moment together in Turkey that we decided to start the Pacific Climate Warriors – a group that is still very active and has been helping to set the agenda for many important climate discussions since then. Despite all our differences, through the storytelling workshops, we realized we had also much in common: we were not victims, we were changemakers – we were not drowning, we were fighting!"
350's Africa Regional Director
"I was already part of 350's staff in 2013, as Francophone Africa Field Organiser. Being together with other activists in Turkey shaped my own path in many ways. GPS was a powerful catalyser for regional action, and the power of youth activism was astonishing! It reassured me that with the right tools and coaching, we can achieve so much. Campaigns launched right after and the victories recorded are the result of GPS”
350's Canada Team Lead
"GPS helped us forge a stronger, more united global climate movement. I loved sharing lessons from organizing national PowerShifts in Canada, and I learned a great deal from the other participants. Gathering in my ancestral home amidst the Gezi Park protests made the experience even more impactful and deepened my connection to movements for justice from all around the world.”
350's Africa Regional Organiser
"GPS offered me the opportunity to physically meet some incredible activists across the world. After the training, we decided to establish an informal network of people in West Africa, with all those who attended. And after a decade of organising and campaigning for energy justice and access for communities, the groups decided to unify their work in a Renewable Energy Coalition that is going to power up the energy transition in the region. GPS keeps echoing, and this is one of its long-lasting impacts in Africa!"