Today sees the release of another major UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, this time focussing on actions needed to adapt to climate damage, or in other words, how best to mitigate the damage already caused. Once again, we are collectively confronted with the many ways our institutions and representatives have failed to combat the climate crisis. However, this moment also presents an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the many ways that young people, particularly those in the Global South, are showing up as leaders in their communities, working to protect their homes from climate risk, and embodying the change we would all do well to follow.

One of these leaders is tireless Ugandan climate activist Nyombi Morris. His activism is centered around preparing the next generation of community leaders, who will undoubtedly face accelerating climate impacts. Working with Fridays for future Uganda and RiseUp movement, a non-profit organization led by Vanessa Nakate, Nyombi works with young people from across the African continent to learn about climate change, climate mitigation, and how they can have a real impact in their communities.

Nyombi began this work by organizing mass reforestation activities with schools in the region. But now he asserts that climate activism and tree planting are not enough, as in Africa drastic impacts are already being widely experienced. Mitigation requires educating the youth, planning for changes, and moving toward a renewable energy transition. This requires climate change to be incorporated into school curriculums throughout the continent.

Nyombi’s upcoming project is what he calls Climate School, a program which aims to reach between 12,000 and 20,000 students, between now and 2023. Utilizing immersive learning strategies, the program will offer children, students, and community members opportunities to learn about environmental management, climate systems, mitigation, adaptation, collaboration, recycling, and more.

The project is seeking funding that would allow for travel to schools across the continent, and textbooks to be printed. The objective is to equip young people with the skills and knowledge to help others in their community, lead the way in urging politicians not to invest in fossil fuels, and averting false solutions espoused by industry such as burning biomass. Nyombi sees this work as a safeguard against climate vulnerability: “once we have teachers, researchers, scientists and activists in our future, we will not be over-exploited”.

Antonella Calle is another activist leading the struggle against climate chaos with her work against the oil extraction industry in Ecuador. She works with a group called the YASunidos, an ecological collective created in 2013. The group took action to oppose then-President of Ecuador Rafael Correa’s exploitation of the Yasuni National Park, one of the world’s most biodiverse areas and home to many indigenous communities.

Soon after its creation the group organized a petition for a referendum on oil extraction which garnered 757,000 signatures. The Ecuadorian government attempted to delegitimize the wildly successful campaign with false claims of fraudulent signatures, but Antonella kept campaigning. She is currently involved in strengthening the collective in terms of communication and the coordination of issues at a national level. Antonella Calle also serves as a spokeswoman.

Although the most reputable scientific bodies in the world have been producing clear reports about the climate crisis for over 30 years, just like this latest from the IPCC, politicians and business leaders continue to do all they can to keep us away from turning towards solutions that are working. Luckily, our planet has bright and energetic people like Nyombi and Antonella, who fearlessly organize, strategize, and resist for the benefit of future generations. We should draw inspiration from them, and harness the power we have within our own communities to implement climate solutions, starting now.

With the launch of today’s IPCC report, we have launched the International People’s Panel for Climate Justice, where we are proudly featuring stories of resistance and people-powered solutions from the global climate justice movement. 

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