This May, Hlumisa (the Eswatini Youth Climate Forum) launched itself at The Green Round Table, a collaborative event coordinated together with the Bushfire School’s Festival and ECCo. The first edition of the Green Round Table happened at the House on Fire Amphitheater through funding by the European Union (EU) and coinciding with the EU Green Week.
There was an open call for young people to apply for the event, followed by an extensive selection process for the limited seats available. The event was a huge success as its inception housed 40 dynamic environmental and climate activists, students, teachers and practitioners of Eswatini. The theme was “Exploring Creative Climate Action & Green Solutions in Eswatini” and the objective was to bring together passionate individuals to explore creative climate action and green solutions in the country.
Jiggs Thorne, Director of MTN Bushfire opened the event with warm welcoming remarks and a call to action (the greening of events is a big part of the MTN Bushfire agenda, with hopes that the festival produces zero single-use plastic waste in the near future). The EU Ambassador to Eswatini, Dessislava Choumelova, expressed her support for the initiative on a personal level and encouraged the youth to remain driven in solidarity towards climate action.
Through a series of talks and workshops, the forum provided an opportunity for like-minded youth to meet, network, learn, share and brainstorm creative ideas and solutions to some of these most urgent and pressing issues of our time. This was introduced by Dane Armstrong from ECCo/Hlumisa, who gave an insightful overview about Climate Change and the urgency for action.
Climate change is a global man-made crisis. Weather patterns are changing, sea levels are rising, and natural disasters are becoming more extreme. It is disrupting economies and affecting individuals, aggravating poverty and rapid urbanization. Without serious and profound action, climate change is likely to push millions further into poverty and limit the opportunities for sustainable development. Developing countries such as Eswatini will be among those most adversely affected and least able to cope with the anticipated shocks to their social, economic and natural systems.
Themed talks were led by speakers including Khulekani Msweli, a Community Activist from Vuvulane spoke extensively about the role of grassroot community activism and engagement. Busiswa Dlalmini and Gcinile Ndzinisa of Hlumisa shared their journey as youth engagers in climate and environmental action. Zanele Thabede spoke on the links between gender and climate change. Mhlonishwa Mabuza and Melusi Zikalala spoke on how to rethink agriculture through permaculture. Lastly, Nosimilo Khumalo spoke on environmental education; opportunities and a way forward. There were also incredible performances from Qibho Intalektual and Senetisiwe Ginindza, weaving environmental and climate messaging into their spoken word performances live on stage, as well as dynamic teambuilding theater from the inspirational Nicholas Mamba. Thabo Lukhele from Yebo Art Gallery was live painting on canvas for the whole event on a piece themed around “We Are the Earth”, further blending the arts and environment for this dynamic event.
The themed talks were followed by practical group work sessions on 6 different topics, ranging from Creativity and the Arts to Youth Engagement and Education.
Eswatini is full of incredible young individuals looking for a platform to contribute towards human security and planetary health. Young people are key stakeholders in climate action because they are the one who will inherit the planet and they have the most to lose. Hence The Green Round Table presented a platform for the youth to think, plan, programme, implement, evaluate and learn together. Participants reviews were highly favourable, as everyone looks forward to making this an annual event for the benefit of all young environmentalists in Eswatini.
The Bushfire Schools Festival and EU will look forward to turning this into a regular feature of the greater Bushfire festival experience, and everyone shared their excitement at the launch of Hlumisa as Eswatini’s first climate focused for-youth/by-youth initiative – with such a huge task ahead of us its finally time to come together as a community of like-minded people working for a better future for all.