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Nowhere is safe, if Africa isn't

 

                                         Nowhere is safe, if Africa isn't

                    My first appearance as a keynote speaker at Staatstheater Stuttgart. An invitation from Schauspiel Stuttgart. 

                                            Nowhere is safe, if Africa isn't

I have a story, an everyday reality for someone like me from the global South. I am from the part of the world where we account for lowest carbon footprint but bear the biggest impact of the climate crisis. I’m not saying this because I want you to feel pity for us neither am I saying this for you to just imagine our everyday struggles rather I’m saying this because I want you to act. It is also an injustice unto us that the $100 billion annual commitments from global North leaders are yet to be fulfilled; you don’t play politics with climate change else it will consume us all. In Africa, climate change is no longer a threat but a reality. Invariably, climate change is now a global reality. What scares me most is that, climate change is the only pandemic that has no vaccine and if we don’t build back better from COVID19 then we are doomed. I’m not only worried about the future but the present because any action we take will bind on us all. The hope therein is that, the climate justice movement has the face of young people because the youth are tomorrow's adult. Remarkably, women and girls are at the forefront of the fight for climate justice.

I advocate for a green democracy that seeks to include the voice of our environment because if nature is left out of our democratic agenda, women and girls will suffer the most. Hence the more we involve women and girls in adapting these systems, the better our democracy. And right now, nature is the most powerful asset the world needs in normalizing our world from crisis. I remembered when I was an undergraduate student, I heard about the 276 school girls that were kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Borno state – Nigeria; which is the closest state to the shrinking Lake Chad. This led to an international outcry of “bring back our girl”. This was the incidence that made me an ecofeminist because to some of those girls, it could be a point of no return. Our society must be a safe place for women and girl to add to voice, action and perspectives in making our world a better.

There are two schools of thought; the first claims that to tackle the climate crisis, we need more and better democracy. The second school of thought asserts that tackling climate change in fact requires the suspension of democracy altogether. There is a meeting point to this, which is the ecofeminism. The direct ties between the nature of Lake Chad and democratic stability in the region show the extent to which environmental rights are indispensable in our world today. Likewise countries with the most severe impacts from environmental injustice tend to have the weakest democratic institutions.

Also, the Niger Delta crisis in my home country (Nigeria) has been a sad reality to my people for decades of untold stories of injustices. The oil spillage has infringed our human rights due to the fact that we are unable to secure drinking water, access to agricultural land that has turned our land to be oil ridden soil, health complications and eventually, the lost of livelihoods. The decades of environmental degradation by Shell and other multinational companies have led to the rise of severe groups to seek for the protection of their land against unsustainable activities. Crisis like this has led to people taking arms against their government. This is how climate change drives conflict in the region too. Currently, it is only in sub Saharan Africa that climate change is leading to armed conflicts. These are the several insecurities that arose from climate change just like that of Madagascar food crisis that has been named by the World Food Programme as the only country where climate change and not conflict is leading to food insecurity. I had a current interaction with a climate justice advocate from Madagascar through my YouTube channel and activists in addressing the intersection between climate change and food insecurity. The possibility of conflict is the outgrowth of overshooting the threshold of scarce resources caused by climate change.

Not acting on climate change is a crime against our human rights because we can’t have secured human rights if our environments are not safe for all. Also postponing climate action into the future is the most dangerous thing to do because for every degrees of warming, there is always a greater or equal impact of climate change on humans and biodiversity. In a world impacted by climate change, how do you quarantine? How do we isolate when flood has taken over our houses? Or when drought has taken over our farmlands? We can no longer predict the rainfall pattern which is where the danger of food insecurity lies.

Likewise, permafrost is melting; the iceberg is on a free fall - losing its gravity every day; the glacier is melting away. This is not normal. It is not normal when we have to forcefully migrate neither is it normal if we can’t recover greener. I once read a news headline that described the science as “failing” following the unprecedented floods in Germany that claimed lives and destroyed properties. I see that statement as a straight denial of the existential threats from climate change because the science has been telling us what to do but we are not listening yet. Another of its kind of report has been released by the intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of which I find to be disturbing because it further emphasis that climate change is a reality and no longer a threat.

Climate change undermines our existence. It is not enough to declare climate emergency, neither is it enough to sign agreement. The starting point is when we walk the talk; we put those commitments or agreements into real action. Also, I have never seen where voluntary commitment ever makes a move for an action to be completed. Sometimes I wondered why we have to target 1.5 degrees of warming rather than aiming for less than 1 degrees of warming. The world is not warmed to 1.5 degrees yet we are faced with these unprecedented crises of our time. Then what do you think will happen if the world warm by 1.5 degrees? If we don’t act and we wait for 2030 or 2050, we are setting the pace for a warmer world.

Also, if it takes the world to get vaccine for everyone to be safe from the COVID19 pandemic, what will it take the world to keep us safe from climate change? If we don’t stop the climate crisis, it will stop us. We can’t stay on the fence anymore likewise any decision we take now count for the present and the future generations. By the end of this decade, we must have either win or lose the race against climate change. The cost of acting now is far important than the cost of acting late.

This is worthy to note that, if Africa is not safe, definitely Europe is not safe hence nowhere is safe until every where is safe. We are in a race against time and the time to act is now!

Thanks you.

By Oladosu Adenike ([email protected])

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