04-11-2021 by Freddie del Curatolo
One of the most heartfelt, passionate, yet forceful and direct speeches of the Glasgow COP26 global environment conference came from a young Kenyan environmental lawyer and activist, Elizabeth Wathuti.
The 26-year-old, in a smart blue suit with a maasai tiara encircling her forehead, spoke before UN representatives, making herself a voice for millions of young people around the world.
"Children do not eat words, they cannot live on empty promises - she began - every day in our country we learn that if we take care of the trees, they take care of us. Young people are waiting for you to act. Please open your hearts."
Afterwards, Elizabeth called for a minute of silence for all those who have lost their lives due to the climate crisis, addressing world leaders.
"Millions of Kenyans are facing severe climate-related hunger problems due to the inaction of governments around the world," the environmentalist continued, "this past year, both of our rainy seasons have been a disaster. Experts say it could be another 12 months before the water returns. In the meantime, our rivers dry up, our crops fail, our animals and people die."
In a voice broken with emotion, Wathuti then cited a personal episode.
"One day I saw with my own eyes three small children crying by the side of a dried up river, after walking 12 miles with their mother in search of water. If you open your heart, you will understand that this heartbreak and pain is hard to bear."
President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is one of Africa's spokesmen in the fight against climate change and who also recently in New York had admonished Western countries for causing 90% of the problems that are afflicting Africa as well as the rest of the world, also applauded the speech.
Kenya was the first African country to pass a climate change law in 2016 and runs on 90 percent renewable energy, with a goal of reaching 100 percent by 2030.
Uhuru is definitely on Boris Johnson's side of the fence and after Glasgow and London, he will be attending other climate and environmental meetings in Scandinavia.
With him also an excellent testimonial, the marathon world champion Eliud Kipchoge.
In a week, Monday 28 August, Kenya should announce the entry into force of the ban on plastic bags.
The country's environmental change was decided six months ago, on February 28, 2017, and should be operational by next Monday.
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