go kumi, go! - a south african takes the reigns of greenpeace

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2009-11-19 09:59

Kumi Naidoo is the new Executive Director for Greenpeace. He grew up in SA, studied in Britain (he has a doctorate in political sociology from Oxford), was one of the founders of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, and led the Global Campaign for Climate Action. After taking the reigns of the international environmental group, he intends to make his focus the impact of climate change on the world's poor (a shift in focus from whaling and nuclear testing, for which he has been criticised by those who don't see the bigger picture, obviously).

This morning Kumi, the first African to head Greenpeace, was interviewed on SAFM. He is a softly spoken, knowledgeable individual who, despite being faced with questions on any and everything connected with climate change, managed to keep his cool and add a certain gravitas to the issue of climate change.

I was gratified to hear the Greenpeace stance on nuclear (a dangerous distraction to real solutions), meat (it's about balance), population, water (if there is a war about anything, it will be about this scarce commodity, rather than oil), and the devastating effects poorer countries are already experiencing.

He spoke in depth about the extent of climate-related impacts and that human existence is under threat by climate change, how there are already climate refugees, and the increase of up to 300 000 people dying a year can be described as climate-related impacts. He also expressed his disappointment in Obama who has not yet announced clearly his intention to even attend the summit, suggesting that he has lost his urgency on the issue.

One of his top priorities will be to secure a fair, ambitious and binding deal in Copenhagen, and to win the argument that we can have a clean, sustainable power supply if we embrace wind and solar power.

Kumi is the first leader of Greenpeace from outside the organisation, until recently he was the honorary president of Civicus where the Global Campaign for Climate Action was an effort to bring environmental, aid, religious and human right groups, labour unions and scientists together for protests, demonstrations and other creative forms of public action on global climate protection. Just a few months ago Kumi was one of the public South African figures to go on a month-long hunger strike to protest Zimbabwe's continuing human rights abuses.

For more on Kumi Naidoo, read:

NY Times
The Daily Maverick

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