Young people are often portrayed by the media in a very negative light – typically through ‘bad news’ stories of ‘hoodies’ and ‘tearaways’ terrorising communities and old people. But the ‘good news’ stories often don’t get told – the ones where young people are leading the way on issues of importance to everyone.
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Climate change hits home with a harsher reality when you live close to the land or the sea, whether it thrashes through Haiti in hurricane form killing hundreds, floods living rooms in winter tides and gales in Scottish fishing villages, or wipes out crops without mercy in drought and floods in Salima district in rural Malawi.
But with and without Mercy, the smallholder farming families are fighting back in the scattered villages of Salima.
It’s hard to think of a time in the last couple of years when climate change, its politics and impacts have had such a high profile and zipped to the top of the headlines quite so quickly.
It’s all the more surprising given that climate change was the great unmentionable of the US Presidential elections (three debates, no reference).
A team of Progressio supporters joined the "Green is working" demonstration of over 250 people from other NGOs, community groups, unions, and businesses last Thursday. It was organised by the ‘Stop Climate Chaos’ coalition as a press stunt to demand that the Government takes the green economy seriously, so we lined up outside the Treasury Office wearing green hard hats!
Today is World Food Day when we will rightly be reminded of the blight of hunger and the appalling fact that today 1 billion people in the world will not have enough to eat.
In recent weeks, food security has been on the media’s agenda. Drought or heavy rains in many countries have caused poor harvests, which are causing food prices around the world to rise yet again. The poorest people in the world are most vulnerable to these food price hikes and there are fears that the number of hungry and malnourished will spiral.
At Progressio we work a lot with the people at the sharp end of climate change and environmental damage - for example, for small scale food producers unpredictable extreme weather or degrading ecosystems mean that crops are harder to grow, and livelihoods more vulnerable. For them, the importance of taking care of the environment is clear.
“Social movements here [in Central America] create new ideas and are an inspiration, not only for Latin America, but for the whole world.” So said Eva Ekelund from the World Lutheran Federation in her opening speech at a Mesoamerican Climate Justice Campaign conference on 16-17 February.
As for the rest of the world – the global North – Angel Ibarra of Progressio partner UNES said in his presentation: "They don’t even mitigate, and we in turn are obliged to adapt, in a scenario in which adaptation isn’t even possible."
Maria Yolanda, 35, is a small-scale farmer living in Antioquia in the Peruvian Andes. Her hopes for “a good future for my children, in a healthy environment” echo with those of billions of us around the globe.
But Maria Yolanda is worried about the water resources that will be available to her in the future. “This is something that keeps us all worried. We hear about climate change and we know there is a lot of pollution of our water as well,” she says.