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Human rights, exploitation and ecology collide

Comment: We need leaders, not politiciansm, By Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International Executive Director
Reported on CNN, November 16, 2009 2:48 p.m. EST

Today we face a perfect storm. As the crises related to the climate, economy, food and poverty collide and combine they threaten to overwhelm us…

…Climate change is not in the future anymore. This year 300,000 people will die from its impact, and next year that figure will rise. Climate refugees, climate conflict, climate fuelled famine and drought are all a reality…

…Around the world civil society has responded to this storm with energy, creativity and action. As I take up my new position at Greenpeace, I know that I am committed to continuing to build a global coalition that can address these issues: One that puts the interests of the world’s citizens foremost in the minds of their governments. One that can usher in a green, just and peaceful future for our planet…

…At Copenhagen we have our best chance to avert the worst of the coming climate catastrophe. So far the talks have been strangled by short term expediency, election cycles and national parochialism. Those of us who have followed the world trade negotiations are familiar with this lack of ambition. But Copenhagen is not a trade negotiation. You can’t win this while others lose. Either we all get it right together or we all sink. Nature does not negotiate….



Charlie McConnell: Director, Schumacher College: First may I add my warmest congratulations to my friend Kumi Naidoo on his appointment as International Executive Director of Greenpeace. Kumi has been one of the leading proponents in forging a broader civil society alliance that embraces environmental, social justice and international development ngos. When Kumi talks we should listen.

As Kumi says Nature does not negotiate. and Climate refugees, climate conflict, climate fuelled famine and drought are all a reality. Human rights, exploitation and ecology collide. See some on-the-ground testimony at if you are still waiting for evidence.

Kumi reminds us that creativity will be needed by civil society organisations and in abundance, to meet this challenge. This resonates very strongly with the work of Schumacher College, as the UK’s leading international college supporting community and environmental activists and education for sustainability worldwide. We have the opportunity to work now and after Copenhagen to bring together the shared concerns of humanity and nature in a way that, even a few years ago, was not thought possible. We must break out of our civil society silos if we are to address climate change in joined up ways that realise social, economic, environmental and political justice.

Relevant courses and events

After Copenhagen: Opportunities and challenges
1 – 19 March 2010

Schumacher College will be holding a stand and running a plenary session on localism and resilience at the Copenhagen Climate Change Civil Society event this December. More info on this to come…

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