Rallying for Climate Justice!
Sunday, December 4
By Caroline Foster
The climate justice rally was one of the highlights of my time in Durban so far. Although mixed reports are coming in on the actual number of participants (anywhere from 3,000 to 20,000), thousands were marching in support of the adoption of a legally binding agreement coming out of COP17. We were part of the faith groups’ participation in the rally. The day began with us hitching a ride on one of the “We Have Faith” caravans that travelled from Kenya to Durban in the weeks leading up to the conference. To learn more about this amazing journey of youth activists, please visit www.wehavefaithactnow.org. The caravan dropped us at the Diakonia Centre where we met up with other faith delegates.
Some of the most powerful songs, chants and dances of protest took place while we were waiting to join with the wider rally. There was a large contingent of youth who have travelled on the caravans. They were a vibrant group leading others in the chants and songs. One in particular stood out to me. One young person began by calling out “hello?” to which everyone else in the group would respond “hello!” and this was repeated several times before the leader would give a statement such as “we came from all across Africa and will not leave without being heard” after which everyone would cheer. I found this particularly relevant as it is pertinent to the situation that our calls are answered. It is one thing for us to call out, but who is listening and who will answer? This chant demanded a group response that all were eager to give. “This is our future,” they said “and not their future.” They were very clear that they have heard enough talk. It’s time for action.
After this morning’s church service in a local township, I went to meet with KAIROS partners for a debrief on what has happened in the conversations and in the civil society meetings thus far. Ivonne Yanez from Action Ecologica in Ecuador noted that sometimes unity is not the end goal for movements such as ecological justice. It is apparent that many different voices and opinions are represented here. For example there are very different goals represented by the small farmers’ movement then by the green energy activists. Those same differences are exemplified in our small delegation of youth from around the world participating in Youth 4 Eco-Justice. As we move in to the project planning phase of the program next week, it will be interesting to see how those perspectives shape groups and initiatives.
The multi-faith service this evening represented the diversity of voices from religions around the world. I especially enjoyed the meditation component where we sent good vibes into the atmosphere for all of creation. Finally, relax. Take three deep, long breaths. Sit comfortably. I will leave you with some words from the service that I hope you can use today to send out your own good vibes:
There is enough for everyone’s needs, but not for everyone’s greed – Gandhi