In an inspiring speech, Prof Maathai called for compassion,
empathy and values to protect our future generations from climate
change. Reflecting upon the Copenhagen summit, she said that
it was a disappointment for many because of the lack of ambitious,
legally binding targets. She, however, mentioned that the announcement
of financial support, albeit small, was an indication of some
level of political commitment.
Citing the example of USA, Prof Maathai highlighted that if people take up an environmental issue, then the Presidential candidates are more likely to include it as part of their election agenda. She reiterated the need for involving religious groups as they are led by values, while different stakeholders may have diverse interests and priorities. Since religious leaders are motivated by concepts of God, an ideology that we are destroying something that is God’s creation is enough to move people.
She mentioned that in countries that lack the technology, knowledge and capital to face the impacts of climate change, it becomes more than just an environmental issue. She expressed concern about the large-scale social and political repercussions, including human security, which could arise from movement of environmental migrants.
She emphasized that national laws need to be developed to respond to climate change adequately, along with ensuring public education and awareness for action at the local level. The quality, and not just the quantity, of monetary aid offered for climate action is important to ensure the right utilization of resources.
In conclusion, Prof Maathai highlighted that there is a need to create pressure to keep the momentum towards the attainment of sustainable development.
- Similar to the three R’s – Reuse, reduce, and recycle, there is the Japanese concept of ‘Mottainai’ - Respect, be grateful and do not waste.
- Congo forests are the second largest stock of carbon forests following the Amazon, and the Congo Forest Fund has been created to protect them.