How to mobilise young feminists for climate justice!

By Arianna Paterino

On the 12th of April 2023, the ‘Workshop Starter Guide for Young Activists’ has been launched, receiving a great response. You can find the toolkit following this link: How to mobilise young feminists for climate justice! – WECF

Today being young means facing new exciting and confusing challenges, like the climate crisis, a global pandemic, or simply trying to understand yourself and your place in the world. Doing everything at once might seem a lot but, fortunately, you are not alone in this! Many young people from all over the world come together to fight for their present and future, demanding a fairer world and a better understanding of what they want. The toolkit comes in help for those who are unsure of where to start in this search. The ‘Workshop Starter Guide for Young Activists’ aims at inspiring action through the organization of your own workshops. The toolkit wants to make climate change issues accessible to young activists, raising awareness around possible roles as an activist, and providing useful tools to navigate activism.

Welcoming introduction and the Feminist Foreign Policy

The launch started with a welcoming message by the organizer of the event, Chantal van den Bossche who introduced WECF’s philosophy based on amplifying the voices of women and marginalized people, making them heard at the policy table, and combining it with local action and implementation of projects on the ground. The Action-advocacy approach is a strong distinguishing element of WECF. The webinar has continued with Janna Lenders, WECF Project Officer, who has shared insights on the Feminist Foreign Policy (FFP) as a successful feminist advocacy. The number of countries adopting FFP is increasing, including the Netherlands. The intervention went on with quoting ‘Without challenging the white supremacist-colonial-patriarchal power, FFP is another brand/trend that promises liberation for the most marginalized people but does little to nothing to change the material conditions of those most affected by systems of oppression and hegemony’ (African Feminism, 2023). Janna has explained what FFP entails, addressed the relation of FFP and the impact of the climate crisis on women and girls, and concluded with giving some recommendations drawing up on the Swedish model.

Climate activism in the Philippines context

The follow-up guest was Lara Maestro from WoW (Women for Filipino Women and Children). WoW is a Netherlands-based support organization that advocates for the rights and welfare of Filipino women and children in the Philippines and abroad. Lara shared a very insightful and inspiring presentation that included an introduction to their movement, two of the main campaigns (Free Women Political Prisoners and Lumad Right to Education), an overview of the environmental context of the Philippines, a description on the climate and land defense struggles in the Philippines and calls to actions. Lara explained how the Philippines is a rich country in terms of natural resources, but its people are poor because the country’s economy is export-oriented and import-dependent. One in five Filipino lives below the average poverty threshold per day (€1,32). The climate struggle in the Philippines is an anti-imperialist struggle because it recognizes that one of the main reasons why the Filipino people are poor is because of extractivism for the benefit of foreign corporations, who work with the Filipino government to set up development projects that displace people from their homes and cause massive environmental degradation. Government policies make land exploitation easier because they have granted development permits to transnational corporations, defending foreign economic interests to repress local and indigenous communities who rise to defend their land. When communities resist these projects, the area is militarized, and activists face criminalization, harassment and even death. Lara has pointed out how two Dutch companies are involved in a new airport development project in the Philippines that has had disastrous environmental consequences. Part of the concluding notes were some suggestions on how to come to action, including joining possible campaigns in support of Lumad land defense struggles and the protection of Indigenous ancestral domain in the Philippines, or organizations around Youth Advocacy, like YACAP, front-lined by the climate justice activist Mitzi Jonelle.

Climate justice in Ukraine during the war

The second invited guest speaker was Olena Kondratyuk, a climate activist and Project Coordinator for the NGO Ecoclub, based in Ukraine. Lena has explained how necessary the energy transition is to stop Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and oil to stop Russian aggression against civilians and energy infrastructure in Ukraine. Olena pointed out how climate justice is not a popular topic among young and old people in Ukraine, especially in war time. The East and the South of Ukraine are the most affected by climate change, with droughts and water scarcity, resulting in crop losses and water insecurity, while the Carpathians have  experienced low snowfall for many years. Due to these difficulties, a great number of people migrate to other cities or countries to work. Furthermore, the use of heavy weaponry and explosions have destroyed forests, polluted air and contaminated the soil. The destruction of critical infrastructures has led to water shortages and an increase in waterborne disease. In addition to the problem caused by climate change, there are issues related to the war, enhanced by fossil fuels profits, which Russia uses for the killing of Ukrainians. Since the beginning of the war Russia has earned more than 300 billion euros in revenue for fossil fuel exports. This means that we must continue to work on the energy transition to end the war and rebuild Ukraine in a green way. Olena has concluded by explaining how Ecoclub has started contributing to a green recovery of Ukraine by building solar power plants for hospitals and water utilities. In addition, it has been stressed the importance of sanctions and refusal of Russian fuel in support for the energy transition.

The ‘Workshop Starter Guide for Young Activists’

The webinar has continued with the awaited moment of the presentation of the ‘Workshop Starter Guide for Young Activists’ by Jada Kennedy, an intersectional activist and black environmentalist. They explained how this toolkit is for everyone since it is written in beginner’s language, introducing to key terms and definitions, showing how to take action through different types of activism, presenting the workshop program, how to start your activism and complementing the toolkit with additional sources for beginner activists and a personal reflection. For everyone’s understanding the terms and definition will provide a solid base of knowledge to follow feminist and activist spaces. Moreover, Jada clarified that to mobilize youth it is important to be relatable, use beginners’ language in the core messages and be clear in what it is required from activists to do. Furthermore, they stressed the importance of considering the Safety and Security related to activism, since not everyone has the privilege of accessing every type of activism, and Regeneration, prioritizing caring for yourself and your energy to avoid burnouts or being mentally impacted by the inactions of certain governments or possible negative responses. Jada expressed how there are no wrong ways of doing activism, and everybody is limited to their own class and society, or financially for example; it also depends on what you can do and what you want to do, based on the change you want to see in society. It is important to be overall vocal in the way that has been chosen. The Workshop program consists of three individual workshops that touch up on different aspects, containing theories, individual thinking, group work, exercises to provide knowledge and instruments. Each toolkit can be given as an individual workshop by anyone to anyone, however the overall goal is to give them as a workshop program. The first workshop is based on understanding the past to understand better the present. It touches upon intersectionality, and other concepts including why and how we should understand the past to do activism today. The second workshop is about staying inform and let’s connect, how to get in touch with organization, grassroots movements and so on, because there is a lot of misinformation, and it is important to be aware of it. It includes also an exercise to find out what type of activism is most relatable for the reader. Furthermore, the toolkit presents additional sources for beginner activists, including books, podcasts, petition platforms, social movements/groups, organizations/groups. Jada concluded their presentation with the message that activism should be fun, and it is important to stay hopeful in this climate crisis we find ourselves in.

As WECF, we will also offer interested parties the opportunity to participate in a Train the Trainers Program based on this Workshop Toolkit. If you’re interested, don’t hesitate to drop by! For more information, please contact