Students and youth across Africa and the world are leading the fight for climate justice. Locally, the Eswatini Climate Coalition is working with school’s existing environmental groups and supporting them to take action!
The Eswatini Climate Coalition gives interactive crash-course like talks about the climate crisis. These serve as vital starting points to get students fully informed on one of the biggest challenges we face today. We talked with students from their environmental clubs about climate change, food and action. We had some amazing discussions and questions, and are incredibly heartened by the existing awareness and passion around these incredibly important topics – we look forward to more visits like this to all schools everywhere!
Schools where ECCO has given talks:
- St Marks High School
- Ekudvwaleni High School
- Sisekelo High School
- Waterford Kamhlaba United World College
Placing Pressure on Government to Act for the Climate
In October 2019, a group of students from Waterford Kamhlaba partnered with the Eswatini Climate Coalition to deliver a letter of concern to the Prime Minister’s office in Mbabane.
Below is the letter they delivered:
His Excellency the Honourable Prime Minister,
As students in Eswatini, we are united by our concerns about the climate crisis. Today, we are not in class. We have a more important responsibility. We are here to tell our leaders to take our future seriously and treat climate change for what it is — a crisis. Eswatini is already and will continue to feel the impacts of human activity on the climate. We have lived through prolonged droughts, floods, catastrophic fires, and heatwaves. Globally and locally, students are realising that the threat climate change poses to our future urgently needs a robust and comprehensive response. Millions of people around the world and thousands in Eswatini demand urgent climate action to protect our economy, and most importantly our people and the planet.
We outline our concerns cognisant of the fact that Eswatini is not a major contributor to climate change. Nevertheless, we cannot allow this to lull us into complacency. We are firm in our belief that Eswatini has the potential to become a global leader in climate change action. We call on government to act by:
- Rejecting all new carbon-based projects and stop backing harmful infrastructures such as fossil fuel power generation and unsustainable commercial agriculture.
- Strengthening and building renewable energy programs so that by 2030 Eswatini is 100% powered by renewable energy.
- Securing adequate resources from national and international funds to facilitate our transition to a low carbon country.
- Legitimately embedding environmental sustainability in development pathways.
- Developing a comprehensive national curriculum on climate change.
- Support ecosystem services through indigenous afforestation and reforestation programs.
- Supporting existing and introducing new grassroots initiatives like the Clean Eswatini campaign providing a decentralised means to combat the climate crisis.
We are aware that a draft Climate Change Bill is being discussed. We commend the noble aspirations of the bill, however demand a new draft of the Climate Change Bill and a final Act that includes the following:
More measurable, clear and decisive steps that can be taken to address the climate crisis and reach the bill’s aspirations. We require a transparent and feasible plan.
Full consultation with relevant environmental stakeholders and professionals in the drafting and review process. It is imperative that a wider range of stakeholders be consulted.
The strengthening of existing government bodies with the mandate to address climate change and the unification of these with any new structures.
Clear evidence that the final Act will be a strong legislative tool that ensures meaningful climate action and results in climate justice.
We understand that politicians are concerned about environmental protection negatively impacting Eswatini’s economy. We implore you to understand that this is mistaken. The 2016 drought has led to significant economic losses destabilising the livelihoods of thousands of Emaswati. Further inaction will only lead to more of this. Not only is it becoming increasingly costly to be inactive about the climate crisis, but economic growth needs to be within what the environment allows. We cannot compromise the future for our current greed.
Climate change poses an existential threat to everyone. Nationally, agriculture, biological functioning and security are threatened. Historical river flows have declined, seasonal temperature extremes have increased, rural poverty has increased and food production has declined. This is especially significant given that nearly one in four Swazis face food insecurity. Pollution threatens the health of many Emaswati and habitats. Our politicians are not doing enough to stop this crisis.
Lastly, we remind the government of their duties as enshrined in the national constitution:
Section 63 (i) protect and safeguard the environment.
Section 210 (2) In the interests of the present and future generations, the State shall protect and make rational use of it is land, mineral and water resources as well as its fauna and flora, and shall take appropriate measures to conserve and improve the environment.
Section 216 (3) The Government shall ensure a holistic and comprehensive approach to environmental preservation and shall put in place an appropriate environmental regulatory framework.
At our schools, we are taking action. We have pursued policy changes on our campuses, we have been marching and raising awareness in our communities, we have pursued grassroots iniatives to reduce environmental impacts at a small local scale. While important, we know that this will not be enough. We need widespread action from those in political power. Eswatini has participated in climate change negotiations for more than twenty years. The time for climate action is now.
We are relying on you,
The students of Eswatini, represented by a delegation of students from Waterford Kamhlaba UWCSA.
Fridays for Future March
On Friday the 27th of September, as part of the Global Week for Future, approximately 200 students from Waterford Kamhlaba UWCSA marched for climate! After attending an ECCO talk, the students were inspired to take urgent action. Not only did they march but they picked up litter along the way — combing both the importance of individual action and being proactive with placing pressure on government, corporations and society to implement the changes necessary for a truly sustainable future.
Fridays for Future is a movement started by Greta Thunberg. It has since become a powerful global force that is pressuring governments to end climate inaction. Eswatini is proud to be part of the 100s of countries where students are refusing to be silent any longer.