Please open your hearts

Geschrieben von Gastautorin Elizabeth Wathuti am 07.11.2021


Rede von Elizabeth Wathuti am 1. November bei der UN-Klimakonferenz COP26 in Glasgow

Am 15.09.2021 berichtete der Guardian, dass in Kenia durch Ernteausfälle aufgrund anhaltender Dürre über zwei Millionen Menschen vom Hungertod bedroht sind. [1] Hungersnöte nehmen weltweit zu. Das zeigt der im Oktober vorgelegte Welthunger-Index 2021: Etwa 811 Millionen Menschen litten 2020 an chronischem Hunger. Das sind 20 Millionen mehr Menschen als im Vorjahr. Betroffen sind vor allem Länder in Afrika südlich der Sahara.

Die größten Hungertreiber sind laut Welthungerhilfe kriegerische Konflikte und die Folgen der Klimakrise. [2]

Wie kann das Ziel, die globale Erderhitzung auf maximal 1,5 Grad zu begrenzen, noch erreicht werden? Kann das Pariser Abkommen von 2015 noch eingehalten werden? Seit 31. Oktober beraten auf der UN-Klimakonferenz COP26 in Glasgow Teilnehmende aus fast 200 Ländern über den aktuellen Stand der Bemühungen.

Eingeladen war auch die kenianische Umweltaktivistin Elizabeth Wathuti, die die Regierenden in eindringlichen Worten aufforderte, endlich angemessen zu handeln. Wir dokumentieren ihre bewegende Rede vom 1. November 2021.

"My name is Elizabeth Wathuti.

I am a youth climate activist from Kenya.

I have done a lot of soul-searching about what to say here today.

I have asked myself, over and over, what words might move you.

And then I realised that making my four minutes count does not rest solely on me.

My truth will only land if you have the grace to fully listen.

My story will only move you if you can open up your heart.

I can urge you to act at the pace and scale necessary - but, in the end, your will to act must come from deep within.


I need to tell you what is happening in my home country.

Right now, as we sit comfortably here in this conference center in Glasgow, over 2 million of my fellow Kenyans are facing climate-related starvation.

In this past year, both of our rainy seasons have failed - and scientists say that it may be another 12 months before the waters return again.

Meanwhile, our rivers are running dry, our harvests are failing, our storehouses stand empty, our animals and people are dying.

I have seen, with my own eyes, three young children crying at the side of a dried up river, after walking 12 miles with their mother to find water.

Please open your hearts.


This is not only happening in Kenya.

Over the past few months, there have been deadly heat-waves and wildfires in Algeria and devastating floods in Uganda and Nigeria.

And there is more still to come.

By 2025 - in just 4 years’ time - half of the world’s population will be facing water scarcity.

By the time I’m 50, the climate crisis will have displaced 86 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa alone.

I would like us to hold a moment of compassionate silence for the billions of people who are not here with us today - whose stories are not being heard, whose suffering is not being felt.Please open your hearts.


[15 seconds of silence]




If you allow yourself to feel it, the heartbreak - and the injustice - is hard to bear.

Sub-Saharan Africans are responsible for just half a percent of historical emissions.

The children are responsible for none. But they are bearing the brunt.

We are the adults on this earth right now - and it is our responsibility to ensure that the children have food and water.

I have been doing what I can. Inspired by the great Professor Wangari Maathai, I founded the Green Generation Initiative - a tree growing initiative that enhances food security for young Kenyans.

So far we have grown 30,000 fruit trees to maturity, providing desperately needed nutrition to thousands of children.

Every day we see that when we look after the trees, they look after us.

But these trees - and the life-saving fruit they bear - will not survive on a 2.7ºC warmer planet.

The decisions you make here will help determine whether the rains will return to our land.

The decisions you make here will help determine whether the fruit trees we plant will live or perish.

The decisions you make here will help determine whether children will have food and water.

I believe in our human capacity to care deeply and to act collectively.

I believe in our ability to do what is right if we let ourselves feel it in our hearts.

So for these next two weeks let us feel it in our hearts.

Please open your hearts.

And then act.

The children cannot live on words and empty promises.

They are waiting for you to act."





Mit herzlichem Dank an Elizabeth Wathuti für ihre freundliche Genehmigung.

2016 gründete Elizabeth Wathuti die Green Generation Initiative (GGI) mit dem Ziel, die globalen Umweltherausforderungen anzugehen und Entwaldung, Klimakrise und Umweltverschmutzung zu bekämpfen. Zu den Schwerpunkten der Initiative gehört neben Umweltbildung und der Förderung junger Umweltaktivist:innen eine Baumkampagne zur Erhöhung des Waldbestands. Mit einem Projekt, bei dem Obstbäume gepflanzt werden, leistet die GGI einen Beitrag zur Ernährungssicherheit der kenianischen Bevölkerung.


[1] https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/sep/15/drought-puts-21-million-kenyans-at-risk-of-starvation

[2] https://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/zeitgeschehen/2021-10/welthungerhilfe-hungersnot-welt-zunahme-hunger-menschen-klimawandel-pandemie





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