World Pulse members are lifting their voices from the heart of global environmental struggles.
As the complexity of environmental challenges facing our planet grows, it is time to turn our attention to the experts: the mother fighting for her child to breathe clean air,the woman who must walk farther for water as this precious resource becomes more scarce.
Grassroots women leaders hold wisdom and a key piece of the puzzle to environmental sustainability. From deforestation in the Democratic Republic of Congo togas flaring in Nigeria, women are witnessing first hand, and often bearing the brunt of the devastation. They are feeling the effects of climate change and speaking out. They are coming together in parallel to international summits and demanding more from their leaders. They are educating and supporting the activism of the next generation.
"When women are involved in the protection of the environment, it can allow families—especially children—and society as a whole to lead healthy lives," writes Ito Ako in the Democratic Republic of Congo. "Women, the mothers of humanity, pass on good environmental habits to their children. Environmental actors should support women’s ideas about protecting natural resources, sanitation, health, reforestation and deforestation, as well as renewable energy."
World Pulse's online community is brimming with insights from the front lines. We ignore these voices at our own peril.
"Government officials at climate summits argue that they cannot afford the costs of fulfilling their commitments to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. In the meantime, the human face of the crisis is invisible. For those strongly struck by extreme weather conditions linked to climate change, the increase in global temperature is more than just a number. My country, Nicaragua, is very vulnerable to the impact of a changing climate. In 2007, according to a Global Climate Risk Index report, Nicaragua was the third country most affected by extreme weather conditions in the world. It is not rare to hear people in rural areas explain the difficulties they face every year. They expect a good rainy season for their crops, but it is becoming more usual to have either droughts or heavy rains, both causing dramatic consequences for food security and access to water for people already struggling to survive."
"For the most part of my childhood, I was intrigued by the sight of the stunning glow that stood out defying the darkness of the sky. It was most enchanting to watch it and fantasize about how it complemented the brilliance of the twinkling stars that decorated the sky with their radiance. By daytime, however, the accompanying fumes that soared towards the clouds became conspicuous. That was several years ago. I have since learned that the glow is an offspring of a wild fiend known as gas flaring in the ‘crude world’."
"Are the widespread disasters in South Kivu Province natural hazards or a consequence of poor environmental management?We see unregulated and unauthorised building work, as well as totally unorganised dumping of organic and non-biodegradable waste in lakes, waterways and rivers. We see trees being cut down and fires starting in forests, savannahs, and grassland. We see fishing that doesn't comply with standards because it either uses banned inputs or takes everything found. We also see blocked gutters and pipes, and a general lack of respect for public hygiene.Each of those is an act of destruction that risks prompting nature to rebel fiercely."
"After my son was diagnosed with asthma, I became angry, confused, and frustrated. As I searched the internet looking for answers, I began to understand the environmental injustices we face each day without taking notice in my community. Our neighborhood sits in the shadow of Sasol, one of the world’s largest petrochemical makers."
"I am an indigenous girl from Balochistan, Pakistan. The land with diverse tribes and the province bordering with Afghanistan and Iran. Almost all the cultural and traditional fables have stories of water, rain, clouds, and monsoon. Rivers are discussed in poetry; happy endings mean it 'rained'. Stories my grandmother tells me of people praying, fasting and asking God for rain, for a drop of water and then it would rain, they would be happy and celebrate. Now when the chanting from traditional songs urge us to dance with their beautiful beats, we don’t take time to ever halt and concentrate. In those hearty words is the reality of Balochistans future: A climatically challenged area where barren lands have already given up struggling to live."
"Giving voice to the girls, it's almost rare in a country where man alone must decide the future of the nation. This will not prevent us from acting! Locust invasion, illegal but abundant exploitations of natural resources such as precious woods, famine or floods in the south, pollution in the city; these are the realities we live daily. What can we do? I encouraged the scout unit I lead to organize an event for the respect of the environment. Ten girls were actively involved in organizing a flash mob.The event was very encouraging for young people who were coming... Above all, the girls were proud of their actions. This is my revolution, these are my actions."
"I witnessed with great sadness the epic failure that was Copenhagen but then I witnessed the joy that was the People's World Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in Bolivia.It was there that I met inspiring men and women who called the earth their Pachamama and were demanding out loud: 'We want system, not climate change.' They were demanding serious carbon emissions cuts and retribution through an International Tribunal for Climate Justice."
"We climb over the massive eastern range, leaving the ever-growing urban monster called Bogotà behind... And for the first time since I heard it in class I see the reality, how little is left of the original Andean forest. It’s a shock, although it’s nothing I didn’t already know.My neighbour is undisturbed by the great gap in the mountain, where sand and pebbles are being blown out. Or by the fact that thousands of people live in almost inaccessibly steep parts of the mountain. Or that most of what little bits are covered with trees are, in fact, covered with foreign Eucalyptus or pine trees. This is why I went into education, so that when people see this landscape they will understand it like I do, they will see the truth and not just pretty colours and skinny cows. Granted, it is beautiful, but it is not complete. I need to see the dark greens and blacks you only get from mature forests. And the reddish-brown of the Encenillo leaves, and the yellow of the Gaque flowers."