SIGBI Programme Director’s Blog February 2020

There is no Planet B

“I want to feel safe. How can I feel safe when I know we are in the greatest crisis in human history?”-Greta Thunberg

An emotionally charged Greta Thunberg voices her agony at the lack of environmental sensitivity of world leaders. Global climate discussions have yielded little action, only hours of discussions. Greta calls for the young generation to take the issue into their own hands. Climate change is a global challenge with no borders and to combat it requires coordinated work by all countries. UN Secretary General Guterres put it “We are still losing the climate race.”

In a Global Millennial Survey conducted by Deloitte climate change and the environment with the desire to make a difference topped that long list of personal concerns for the millennial. Greta’s marches and obstinate wrangling with super powers have proved a point. The youth today is aware of the scientific facts and that climate change is an important issue to be taken seriously for future sustainability. It is time to recognize young people as equal partners in safeguarding the earth for all generations.

Educate to Lead is the long-term theme of Soroptimist International. Soroptimists can take up education of climate action, at schools, colleges and in the community, the way gender sensitization and violence as a topic for advocacy has been. As one concerned CEO educator said “there is no excuse for not teaching climate mitigation and adaptation to high school and college students—and making it a central institutional focus not an extra project.”

And why should weather/climate be taught?

He continues, “We’re talking about exploring the long-term shifts in climate that will make large portions of the planet unproductive even uninhabitable; we’re talking about a dramatic loss of species diversity; we’re talking about rolling drought and famine, fire and destructive storms that will trigger mass immigration, terrorism, and war.”  Soroptimists can lead community conversations about climatic changes with a sense of urgency.

If we get moving and mobilize a billion young people who are equipped to use big data and smart tools, passionate about saving the planet to put up a good fight, they have a shot at leaving a sustainable planet to their children.

Soroptimists worldwide are already pushing projects of tree planting. At Davos 2020 the concept of planting a trillion trees to mitigate climatic change was brought centre stage. Given all the benefits of this initiative, the world has still the industry transition, the energy, financial, and urban transition, to grapple with.

Greta says this is not enough, working with urgency is. The inaction of the international elite irks her, “We don’t need a low carbon economy; we don’t need to lower emissions. Our house is still on fire. Your inaction is fuelling the flames by the hour,” Thunberg added. “We are still telling you to panic, and to act as if you loved your children above all else.”

Soroptimists stand up for Greta.

Naina Shah
Assistant Programme Director, Planet

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