I have just got back from one of the most inspiring weeks of my life! As a fairly new part of the Greenpeace Africa team I had the opportunity to attend a week-long induction programme that takes place once a year to welcome new people to the organisation. It's a fantastic chance to learn more about Greenpeace's history and guiding philosophies, the various campaigns being run around the world, and our many victories.
I guess for me the best part was meeting so many young people who have also just joined the organisation. It gives me hope that although many of our campaigns have been running for years, and some for decades even, there are still lots of young people willing to work on these issues. It was inspiring to hear how many of them had started out working in the more corporate areas of the economy, but had then decided to change course and do something they're really passionate about. And I think being able to do that makes us some of the luckiest people alive.
Don't get me wrong: Greenpeace is not a bunch of 20 - 30 year olds running about. We had many opportunities to hear stories and bits of advice from the real veterans in the organisation. People who worked for Greenpeace since before the first Rainbow Warrior was bombed and sunk. People who'd taken part in the very first actions against seal hunting in the arctic, and whale hunting in the Southern Ocean. People still willing after 40 years to take action against environmental injustices and the corporations and governments causing them.
Truth be told, I wouldn't have been surprised if they'd been a little disheartened. It may be that Greenpeace is still around today because it has been so successful on many of its campaigns. But at the same time it's sad that 40 years down the line, there is still a need for an organisation like Greenpeace; sad that we still need to fight for our forests, for the climate, for our oceans, for the planet and our future on it.
Yet if you sit and talk to them, they aren't. For every one sad story they have, there are many of how their actions played a pivotal role in final victories. Looking back they will tell you it's been a long road, but we have come a long way, and we're definitely on the right track. We are winning on many fronts, and although some, like our climate and energy campaign, will be a long and hard climb, they are made up of many tiny steps, and we're bounding up them!
So I've come back to my desk now, raring to go. I am so excited for the rest of this year, and the things we have planned! With the climate talks in Durban coming up, this could be a monumental year for South Africa -- and whatever happens, it will shape our future. We also have a lot of work to do to protect the Congo rainforests and the fisheries off the West African coast. Then there is also the worrying tendency the South African government seems to have towards going nuclear -- we need to respond to this, and push for a truely green, renewable energy supply -- not just for the climate, but for the sake of job creation and the economy, too. But it's inspiring to know that around the world there is a massive network of people all working on similar issues, and they are all motivated by the same desire for a peaceful and sustainable world.
It's going to be a big year, with many challeneges, and I'm 100% ready for it!