Watchback Elizabeth Wathuti at COP26 and Forecast

Posted on 15.11.2021

“Open your hearts” was Elizabeth Wathuti’s call to 120 heads of state at the World Leaders opening ceremony at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, 2021. 

“Please open your hearts. If you allow yourself to feel it, the heartbreak and injustice is hard to bear. Sub-Saharan Africans are responsible for just half a percent of historical emissions. The children are responsible for none.”

Her speech was striking. You may already have seen the video of the 26-year-old Kenyan environmental activist take the stage, and feel the change when she asks everyone in the room to join her in a moment of compassionate silence for those who weren’t there. But even if you have already seen it, it’s well worth six more minutes of your time:

Elizabeth’s early experiences in nature and planting trees in Kenya led her to found the Green Generation Initiative, which focuses on nurturing young environmental enthusiasts through promoting a love for nature.

Invisible Dust were thrilled to have Elizabeth join Forecast for our event “how can nature help us thrive” this summer. In conversation with artist Frances Disley and climate psychologist Emma Lawrance, she warned that we should never underestimate the value of connecting to nature to help humanity not only survive but thrive. Watch it here:

When reflecting on her COP26 speech on the Outrage & Optimism podcast, she said: “When I was given this opportunity, I kept asking myself, ‘it’s okay to give me a platform to speak, but are they going to hear me? Are they going to hear my truth?’”. 

In the same interview she spoke of how despite the massive shortcomings of world leaders at the conference, the actions of grassroots groups and civil society outside of the COP left her feeling that the message had been heard. “What keeps me optimistic is that so many of us want this change to happen. And I think together we can win this and together we can make this change happen.”

More to discover

Find out more about Elizabeth’s work and how you can support it here: Green Generation Initiative.

Listen to Elizabeth’s interview on the Outrage & Optimism podcast here: 130: Opening Hearts with Elizabeth Wathuti.

Watch back more of Invisible Dust’s Forecast events here: Forecast Watchback Page.

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