A Kenyan youth environmental activist and campaigner, Elizabeth Wathuti, got the world talking after delivering a stunning address at the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland.
Wathuti is the founder of Green Generation Initiative (GGI) which nurtures young environmentalists. She is inspired by the late Prof. Wangari Maathai and carries the Nobel laureate’s legacy on in more ways than one, including in her role as Head of Campaigns at the Wangari Maathai Foundation.
Wathuti is also advocates for inclusive green spaces as Coordinator of Daima Green Spaces.
Given four minutes to address a crowd of the world’s most important people in governance, business and environment, she seized the opportunity by painting a stark picture of the reality faced by many Kenyans, and Africans.
Wathuti noted that over 2 million Kenyans were currently facing climate-change related starvation and urged the dignitaries to “open their hearts”. She highlighted other climate change-related disasters in Algeria, Nigeria and Uganda.
“In 2025, just four years time, half of the world’s population will be facing water scarcity. By the time I am 50, the climate crisis will have displaced 86 million in Sub-Saharan Africa alone,” Wathuti stated.
Wathuti compelled the audience to observe a moment of silence for those suffering due to the climate crisis.
She highlighted that Sub-Saharan Africa was only responsible for 0.5% of all emissions but was the most affected by climate change, calling for decision makers to think of those bearing the brunt.
“In the end your will to act must come from deep within… I believe in our ability to do what is right if we let ourselves feel it in our hearts,” she stated, urging them to have the grace to truly listen.
The speech captivated not only her audience at the summit but the world at large, as it went viral on social media and elicited a flood of impressed responses.
Wathuti noted that she chose to share her speelch across social media as focus on the summit would likely be centred on world leaders and other dignitaries as opposed to youth voices.
Watch her speech below:
Here is my full speech at the #COP26 World Leaders Summit Opening Ceremony with a key message from Earth to COP: “Open your hearts”!
The youth voices at the World Leaders Summit will probably get the least coverage! So I’ll upload them here! Share widely! pic.twitter.com/yv6kKyfzDF
— Elizabeth Wathuti 🇰🇪 (@lizwathuti) November 2, 2021