From Sierra Leone to Brazil: meet the young people fighting for climate justice

Young people have been the face of the climate crisis this past year, standing together in solidarity across the world to demand their rights to a decent future. The School Strikes For Climate, influenced by the famous teenager from Sweden, Greta Thunberg, have grown in scale, month after month, thanks to the quick spread of the movement on social media. Young people from hundreds of countries and cities around the world have been taking to the streets to demand immediate action on climate change.

Last year the UN warned that we have only 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, yet the climate crisis is still not at the top of many government agendas. We spoke to young climate strikers from Uganda, Sierra Leone and Brazil on what they think needs to be done about it.

Hilda Flavia Nakabuye, Fridays for Future Uganda

Hilda Striking in Kampala, Uganda

Climate change is one of the greatest challenges affecting humanity in the 21st Century. In Uganda, we are facing heavy rainfall that causes flooding as well as no rainfall at all, leading to droughts and poor harvests. Temperatures are rising and plantations are drying up. Surface water temperatures, on our biggest lake, Lake Victoria, have risen by almost 1.2 degrees drastically affecting fish stock. All of these climate changes pose a significant threat to the lives and livelihoods of Ugandans as agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy and poor climatic conditions have significantly reduced our production.

Politicians should declare climate emergencies in their respective countries. And corporate organisations and communities need to take personal responsibility to reduce their carbon footprint.

Young strikers in Uganda

Students and young people should stand up, speak up, and raise their voices to fight for our future.

I joined the global strike for climate as a victim of this climate crisis and because I am someone who believes we can do something about it. Our leaders should be setting an example to the younger generation but as they are not, it is upon us, to attend these strikes and demand the safety of our future.

Alhassan Sesay, Sierra Leone School Green Clubs

Youth climate protesters in Sierra Leone

The planet, our life support system is under serious threat. Our efforts to industrialise and develop are jeopardising our existence on the planet. And Planet earth is, for now, the only known planet that will supports us and the things we need to sustain life as we know it. It is under a persistent threat of destruction and could reverse any gains we have achieved in our human intellectual development. Climate change is having a devastating effect on our way of life.

We need to make a concerted effort globally to address the challenges we face in dealing with climate change and increase the political will of governments to address the problems of climate change.

Sierra Leone School Green Clubs strike outside Council building

We need a climate emergency endorsed by The UN security council to compel member states to take concrete climate mitigation actions, limit or revers climate change and save the planet and humanity.

I joined the globe youth strike for climate in a show of support and solidarity against climate change and global warming.

Nayara Almeida, Greve pelo Clima Brasil – Fridays For Future Brazil

Fridays for future Brazil strike in Rio De Janeiro

I think that we need be radical about climate change because all of the scientific research shows us that we must act now.

It is time to push our politicians to act, and make those denying the crisis realise the truth and recognise that it is affecting us all.

Last month, I wrote a letter with other young people begging the President of Brazil to do something. Many people in Brazil are unaware of the climate crisis but tf we do not do anything today, it will bring about tragic consequences for the population and biodiversity of Brazil.

During all of the strikes we go to, we always talk with people about the climate crisis. My friends and I have found that lots of people don’t even know about it, think it isn’t true or are confused. I feel that Brazil has failed in terms of climate education and I worry because it is, us as citizens, who will have to suffer this crisis.

Fridays for future Brazil strike in Rio De Janeiro

Here in Rio De Janeiro, we are feeling the effects of climate change first hand. We had a sudden storm that killed people, that flooded our streets and houses and left us without electricity for hours. It was a chaos! The city stopped! It is stressful for us, not knowing, if the next rainfall will be fatal or not. My mother is a craft-maker and rainfall affects how much money she makes. A day without electricity is one less day to produce crafts, meaning less food for my family. It’s awful.

I joined Greta’s strikes, that are called “Greve pelo Clima” (Strike for the climate) here in Brazil. Seeing her take action gave me courage to go to the streets, strike with other young people, talk with people about climate justice and together build a better future.

Fridays for future Brazil strike in Rio De Janeiro

I believe that we, the youth, can change our reality and the the reality of those around us. This movement is not only in the city of Rio de Janeiro, but more than 30 different cities in Brazil have already participated, and it is only growing.

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From Sierra Leone to Brazil: meet the young people fighting for climate justice

by Poppy Reading time: 4 min