“Necessity is the mother of invention” these words peaked and troughed in my mind as I participated at the Virtual Youth Summit hosted by 350.org in collaboration with the South African Youth Centre for Climate Change and the African Climate Alliance. We’re at a critical point in our human history, a point that we’ll either retrospectively look back at with pride or with disappointment at our failure to act with urgency, creativity, and the decisiveness that is required to meet the climate crises. The pandemic has thrust governments, businesses, families and activists like us into new territories, forcing us to do things quite differently from how we normally would. The need to survive has peaked and so has our desire to innovate. 

One thing remains clear, the climate change crises stretches well beyond just climate, and tackling it effectively requires responses that address the links between race, economic status, generational equity, gender, climate and security – we must ensure no one is left behind. 

With the new normal upon us, what was meant to be a physical gathering of activists, campaigners, scientists and those with newly vested interests in the area of climate change became a month-long virtual summit. A virtual meeting of young and bright minds building rapport, bouncing off each other’s energy, perspectives and experiences. The movement has officially added a different texture to it – social distancing will not hinder nor digress the forward momentum of South African youth activists to achieve a climate just and sound society in our lifetime. 

After clicking the ‘Leave Meeting’ button, I felt inspired, hopeful and ready to take the next step, ready to begin the next chapter in my environmental activism both personally and professionally. More than that, I felt comforted in knowing that I could call and collaborate with any one of the participants of the summit – that I am not alone in seeking the justice that belongs to millions of youth on this continent.

We may have not gathered and walked in our 100s and 1000s to the steps of parliament, but we certainly gathered enough force and clarity as a collective and this can only bear good fruits. We are ready. 

A luta continua.

Yours in Climate Action Today,

Awande Duma