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Interview with Rose Wachuka

By Aya Chebbi - 01 January 2015

Blog-CA02Rose Wachuka a Kenyan lawyer and an International Affairs scholar spoke to Aya Chebbi FFD’s blogger about her views on climate change.

Rose is a Steering Committee member of the Global Young Greens (GYG). She is also the Strategic Advisor on Programs and Partner Relations at Kenya Young Greens. Rose prides herself in the fact that the Green principles are focused on ensuring that women and minority rights are protected. Rose is the co-founder of the Voice of Women Initiative and a blogger, building a platform that would inform the world about African values, democracy, green principles and the value of peace. Her blog is called Green Background.

1.Tell us about your "climate awakening moment", the moment where you decided to dedicate your efforts in climate activism and why you think everyone has to have that “awakening moment" to save our nations and continent?

I was asked to present a paper on Climate Change Farmer Related Suicides in Makueni County in Kenya at an East African Climate Change and Reproductive Rights Conference in Munyonyo, Uganda in 2010. At first, the topic seemed surreal. Then I embarked on the data collection and discovered that not only were desperate farmers in dire need of government assistance, but that some of them had become suicidal as a result of the change in weather patterns, reduced productivity and increased poverty. The link between psychology and the effects of climate change reinforced my zeal to continue pushing for climate responsibility. Over the years, I have learnt that the understanding and comprehension of impacts and the long term effects are different in different parts of the world.

This differentiated approach is worrying because most policy makers react to the problem of climate change based on their national state identity. Most nations focus on their national security, economic prosperity and self survival. This approach cannot work where the global commons are concerned. Climate change threatens the existence of the present and future generations. So, I have been focusing more on this policy aspect. If we are to achieve any meaningful impact on this issue, we must reorganize our global priorities and economic model. We must realize that millions of people in little villages around the world and who neither understand why their lives seem so bleak, nor have the opportunity to attend international climate conferences, face the worst threats. We must realize that our global future is interlinked and that realism as far as climate justice is concerned can no longer hold. Everybody is threatened and everyone needs to realize that the future of development has to have a sustainable matrix.

2. Following your passion and vision what did you concretely achieve with Global Young Greens and other initiatives in East Africa and Africa in general?

Information and an avenue to talk about the environment have been the greatest avenue the Global Greens and the Global Young Greens have offered, particularly for Africans. In Europe for instance, where the movement is strongest, this dialogue has traversed into the political sphere with young Greens getting elected on the basis on a conscious ideology into the European Parliament.

As a member of the Steering Committee of the Global Young Greens and strategic adviser to the Kenya Young Greens, I have been involved in national and continental climate and environmental awareness and policy and law making. The African Civil Society is very climate change attuned with the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYIIC) and PACJA among the internationally recognized pressure groups for climate justice. The gap and the area that I continue to engage in is policy and law: Commenting on bills and laws relating to the environment such as the Biosafety Bill in Kenya and ensuring that the constitutional imperative of sustainable development is upheld.

3. Where do you think the real problem lies; in companies, governments or communities?

Africa is in the age of industrialization. The narrative has been that 'Africa is Rising' and this is the problem. African governments are economic oriented but pursuing the same model as other industrialised nations around the world. While indeed, the continent is putting in a lot of hard work both in its manufacturing industries, infrastructure and production, the formula for development must incorporate sustainability.

Governments must consider the impact of external extraction and particularly, the impact of oil and gas exploration upon the environment. While most African countries are resource rich, the productive use of those resources continues to be elusive. Our model for development has to be different. We must incorporate human and environmental considerations into that model.

4. What do you think about the future of climate change policy plans and implementation in Kenya and Africa?

Climate change cannot be averted using the tactic of veto and political power. Climate diplomacy must be level and it must be directional. The Kenyan Foreign Policy incorporates environmental diplomacy as one of its key pillars. As a country dependent on agriculture, the government has dedicated a part of the national budget to enhancing food security. Sustainable development is also one of the constitutional values under Article 10 of the Constitution. The approach of involving the private sector and civil society on national climate and environmental dialogue is very effective. Unlike in the past, the government of Kenya, the private sector and civil society have an agreed position on the future of climate dialogue. The current model is not working and an immediate and most urgent shift ought to be engaged.

We must realize that no single continent can tackle climate change. It is a phenomenal problem that affects various parts of the world in different ways. The world must move beyond trial and error. It must move beyond tiring, verbose climate summits. Governments must allow scientists, geologists, farmers, fishermen, industrialists, financiers, children and women and all those concerned, to find solutions. It must be about compromise and sacrifice. Production and the economic model must move from the individualistic capitalist sense to a more conscious Green model. This newer model should not be a single ideology. It has to be a combination of various ideologies and considerations. It must be a system of global cooperation.

5. What message would you want to leave for young people? How can they meaningfully contribute to solving climate change?

Young people have the minds to innovate and the spirit of selflessness. Innovation and technology will arm our generation with some of the tools we need to survive and help others to do the same. Selflessness will allow us to remodel the economic model even to the seeming economic detriment of our countries. It will allow us to enforce true global cooperation.

Stay engaged and keep yourselves informed.




Aya Chebbi

An award winning Tunisian blogger and activist.

Read her personal blog Proudly Tunisian at http://aya-chebbi.blogspot.com



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