Coast KZN

09 Oct 2020

Youth unite in fight for healthy environment

Nothando Mthembu (Southlands Sun) Picture: Youth braved the rainy weather to show government how serious the issue of climate change is to them.

Environmental activists and community members alike came out in their masses for the annual Youth Climate Strike in the fight for their right to a clean and healthy environment on Friday, 2 October. The youth braved the rainy weather to show government how serious the issue of climate change is to them. The peaceful protest saw about 300 youth from different communities walk from King Dinizulu Park to the Durban City Hall.

Protesters handed a memorandum to Leonard Masinga, a representative from the mayor’s office. The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) shared that the demands of the memorandum included the government’s move towards using renewable energy, holding chemical industries accountable for their excessive emissions and to make sure that people’s lives come before profits. The focus of the strike was to address the issues regarding pollution, oil and gas and renewable energy.

The initiative was organised by the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA), in collaboration with 350.Org, Abahlali baseMjondolo, Groundwork, Active Citizens Movement, African Climate Reality Project, African Solidarity Network, Coalition of the Poor, Greenpeace: Local group Durban, KZN Sustainable Fisherfolk Forum, Market Users Committee, Mobeni Heights Civic Association, Poor Flat Dwellers, Right to Know, Slow Food Community: Sutton Pool Food Garden, South African Muslim Network (SAMNET), Timberwatch, Ubunye Bama Hostela (UBH) and the United Front.

Umkomaas youth community member Reanne Shunmugam said, “The water and air has been polluted in Umkomass. This upsets me as it is very unhealthy for my community and it makes us sick. We youth are tired of government ignoring our voices and not taking action against climate change as the impacts on our health are catastrophic.”

The youth also expressed climate change issues are affecting their communities in a livestream video posted by SDCEA media and communications officer Joanne Groom on the alliance’s Facebook page. SDCEA intern Tristan Meek commented, “This is just a start of what we at SDCEA are trying to accomplish with the youth of South Africa. We plan to build and develop a strong youth movement to save our future and our children’s future. Climate change is real, while the government ignores what we fight for, downplays climate change and grants permissions to industries and accepts investments in fossil fuels.

“Many youth do not understand the concept of climate change, and major companies are killing our people slowly. By holding demonstrations, rallies, meetings and workshops we are educating the youth and galvanising them to take a stand to save their future. Lastly, I thank everyone for standing together with us and fighting for our future.”

For video, see blob: