May 22, Johannesburg – More than 140 activists from across Africa gathered today in a Zoom action on the International Day of Biodiversity. Youth activists in Africa and around the globe turn to digital activism during the COVID-19, fuelling their fight against climate change. 

“When it comes to climate change, we cannot afford not to act. We cannot afford to lose our forests. We cannot afford to lose our ecosystems. The animals know this and can teach you that”, Vanesa Nakate told the crowd. “We stand for our biodiversity, so in ten years from now we don’t get to experience it only through history books”, Nakate concluded.

Nakate, a 23 years old activist, is one of Africa’s most prominent climate activists. She began protesting outside Uganda’s parliament in 2019 and tweeting the SaveCongoRainforest hashtag, raising awareness and propeling governments to act for the world’s second largest rainforest. Her activism had since spread to thousands of youth from Africa and elsewhere, bringing her to COP25 in Madrid and to work with Greta Thunberg, Jane Fonda, and others. Nakate was joined on the Zoom action today by hundreds of climate activists.

One of them was Marie Grace Ngo Mbog, a Greenpeace volunteer from Cameroon, who used the opportunity to call her government to cancel recent plans to log the Ebo Forest.  According to Greenpeace Africa, the Ebo Forest is a biodiversity hotspot, with more than 85,000 hectares of rainforest put at risk – an area about the size of London. “The decline of Biodiversity spells the decline of humanity”, warned Ngo Mbog.

The United Nations has proclaimed May 22 The International Day for Biological Diversity to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues and to commemorate the adoption of the text of the Convention on 22 May 1992 by the Nairobi Final Act of the Conference for the Adoption of the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was originally expected to take place from 15-28 October 2020, in Kunming, Yunnan, China. However,  it had been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, along with other environmental forums like COP26 in Glasgow and the IUCN Congress in Marseille. 

Following the Zoom action, a recording and photos will be available here 

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Greenpeace Campaigner in the Democratic Republic of Congo. © Kevin McElvaney / Greenpeace Get Involved