Vanessa Nakate, Ugandan Climate Activist, Offers an Optimistic Vision

The 24-year-old from Uganda has emerged as a leading voice of young people agitating for climate action.,


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The activist Vanessa Nakate offers an optimistic vision: ‘We won’t have to fight’ for resources.

“We are in a disaster that is happening every day,” Vanessa Nakate told a rally in George Square in Glasgow on Friday.Credit…Andy Buchanan/AFP — Getty Images
  • Nov. 5, 2021, 12:04 p.m. ET

Vanessa Nakate, a 24-year-old Ugandan activist, used her address to a crowd of protesters in Glasgow on Friday to emphasize the immediate impacts of climate change facing her country and continent, and to draw a picture of a fairer future, arguing that the world could emerge from the climate crisis.

“We are in a crisis,” she said. “We are in a disaster that is happening every day.”

But she also offered words of hope, suggesting that change could happen if activists continued to hold leaders accountable for harming the climate.

“The farms can blossom again,” Ms. Nakate said. “The animals can rejoice, because there is water to drink. There is a loud singing in once-parched lands. The pain and suffering are gone.”

“We won’t have to fight for limited resources, because there will be enough for everyone,” she said.

Ms. Nakate has emerged as a leading voice of young people agitating for climate action, particularly in Africa, drawing attention to the disproportionate impact of climate-induced disasters on the people of a continent that contributes little to the problem of global warming.

“Historically, Africa is responsible for only 3 percent of global emissions, but Africans are suffering some of the most brutal impacts fueled by the climate crisis,” she said.

She rose to prominence after she was cropped out of an Associated Press photograph of five young climate activists at the World Economic Forum in Davos last year.

Ms. Nakate reacted to her omission in a tearful 10-minute video posted on Twitter in which she denounced the “racism” in the global environmental movement. Her book, “A Bigger Picture: My Fight to Bring a New African Voice to the Climate Crisis,” is out this month.

“We need to continue holding leaders accountable for their actions,” she told the protesters. “We cannot keep quiet about climate injustice.”

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