Thank you so much for coming to the Bridging Climate Justice evening!
We kicked off the evening with a speed date session to get to know each other. Music offered a great excuse to have a little dance when switching partners to talk to. But the main goal was to start a dialogue about our dreams for the future. How do we wish to see the world in which our grandchildren will grow up and what can we do today for making these dreams a reality?
Creating a better world for tomorrow starts with acknowledging the problems we have to fight today. Our African and Dutch colleagues spoke about the work they do and what struggles they face in their fight for a better world. Both in Africa as in the Netherlands, the interests of big companies like Shell are often not compatible with the safety of ordinary people. The extent to which human rights are being affected by these companies varies from earthquakes, collapsing houses in Groningen, to deforestation and the loss of agricultural land leading to poor access to food and water in Nigeria, Oeganda and DRC. Standing up to protect nature and defend human rights happens all over the world in very different social and political contexts. The most striking difference between environmental work in Africa and the Netherlands, is the safety and protection we are blessed with here - in sharp contrast with the enormous risks that our colleagues in Africa run. As more and more African colleagues shared stories of corruption and even torture, the room couldn’t have been more silent.
Once we shared the obstacles we encounter in our daily work, in smaller groups we started to talk about solutions, discussing topics like gender, justice, campaigning and communication. This enabled us to use our different backgrounds and perspectives on concrete concepts. These brainstorm sessions ended up producing practical and useful strategies and ideas how to handle different issues we face all over the world.
Even though we live in totally diferent countries, with contrasting political contexts, we have to deal with similar problems when it comes to climate justice. The evening was a successful attempt to exchange experiences and I felt so fortunate to discuss and share ideas with such inspiring people. I wasn’t the only one who thought this was an incredibly invigorating evening. Here are some comments of my colleagues:
‘What touched me the most was the story of one person. He told that he fled from Nigeria, because of Shell. Then he arrived in Den Haag just to find out the head office is located here in Holland.’
‘What stood out for me the most was how strong these people are. That they fight for what they believe in, even though this means they put themselves in dangerous situations. You know this is happening, but to actually meet people who are working under these circumstances is really inspiring.’
‘There was a beautiful moment in a discussion we held about science and research. Our African colleague told about the shortage of scientific information about how the energy transition can take place in our daily lives. We realized we have the same lack of information in Holland. So in a complete different setting of energy transition we have searched for ways to solve the same problems. A beautiful insight.’
‘One of our colleagues from the Democratic Republic of Congo shared his motivation to keep working in a environmental organisation even though he was risking his own life: “It makes me feel good to be surrounded by nature, and when I see nature being damaged or destroyed, it makes me feel so sad, it hurts me in my soul, I personally suffer from it.” It think this is a very universal feeling, that a lot of people can relate to, and I think it is the vulnerability and human aspect behind this statement that touched me deeply.’
- Rosa van der Laag