This week in Paris, world leaders are at the COP21 climate summit finalizing what could become a historic climate agreement.
Driving these national commitments are less visible, but equally momentous grassroots efforts. If history is made, it will be thanks to every person who has spoken up and acted on behalf of our planet, making the issue of climate change one that world leaders simply cannot ignore.
The Maman Shujaa ‘Hero Women’ in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo have for years been sounding the alarm on World Pulse, documenting the destruction in their forested backyard. They have shared poetry and tributes to the planet they depend on for livelihood. They have called out the cycle between environmental destruction and violent conflict. They have contributed solutions through tree-plantings and other actions. And, in the words of Maman Shujaa founder Neema Namadamu, they have come together, uniting in “our hope of returning this great mountainous savannah to the forested paradise we knew as little girls; a land rich in biodiversity as part of the world’s second largest rainforest.”
Inspired by this collective vision, World Pulse challenged our global community to follow the example in the DRC, to make the local global and the invisible visible. In partnership with Women’s Earth & Climate Action Network (WECAN) we launched our climate justice initiative earlier this year. Through this effort, World Pulse members contributed to the thousands of signatures in support of the Women’s Climate Declaration, which is currently being delivered at Paris’ COP21 summit.
We also crowdsourced over 50 climate justice testimonies, from Curaçao to Papua New Guinea. These voices add to a growing body of evidence of the effects of climate change on women of the world and the leadership of women in the climate justice movement.
While the impacts of climate change can be intensely local—the vanishing edge of a forest, the aftermath of a natural disaster, the personal hardship of climate-induced migration—these human costs add up on a global scale. Fortunately, so do the solutions.
Together, our voices and positive visions for the planet are greater than the sum of their parts. They offer a global blueprint for change and a clear and decisive message to global leaders.
As Neema says, “We are taking our stewardship seriously. We know that the difference we make not only affects our world, but the rest of our planet.”