With the dust of social anger still unsettled in Taksim Square and on the same day that U.S. President Obama unveiled his groundbreaking climate action plan, 500 young climate activists from around the globe have gathered in Istanbul to mobilize strategies for a cleaner energy future. Is the pendulum finally swinging green?
The activists, each a leader in their home country, have gathered from 134 nations to attend the Global Power Shift Summit organized by 350.org – the same group responsible for over 20,000 international peaceful demonstrations to date.
Their intent: solve the climate crisis.
It’s a tall order, particularly in Istanbul where the Turkish government executed a swift and violent crackdown in recent weeks when protestors swarmed city streets asking for environmental, political and social change.
Tomorrow’s leaders are an extraordinary group with bold visions despite several predictions of a bleak and miserable future on a very hot planet.
Joao Scarpelini, one of the lead coordinators of Global Power Shift from Brazil, said, “I want to welcome everyone that believes in the power of young people,” according to a recent statement released by the organizers.
“What’s most important is that we all get to inspire each other based on our stories, and each of us has an authentic story to tell,” said Nanjira Sambuli, a facilitator from Kenya who will be leading workshops throughout the summit.
The attendees often had to wait weeks to obtain visas to visit Turkey for this unprecedented event, but they persevered.
350.org’s Joshua Kahn Russell helped to create the event’s curriculum.
“We’re not just talking about breadth and scale and numbers,” he said, “but depth of relationships amongst one another.”
“As young people, we’re inheriting a broken world full of divisions. One of the reasons we’re coming together here is to grapple with those differences and build one big movement where we all belong.
On Thursday, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary, Christiana Figueres, will address the Global Power Shift summit.
“We are fast approaching 2015, the year in which governments have to reach a new climate change agreement that guides the longer-term international response to climate change,” said Secretary Figueres in advance of her address.
“This longer-term response will affect generations to come, which is why it is critical for the voice of youth to be heard now.”
Throughout the upcoming week, participants will engage in workshops, art and training projects as well as panel discussions.
Meanwhile, the Turkish hosts have not quieted their political rhetoric at all – despite the government’s declared war on anyone who dares to “cause the country harm,” as Prime Minister Erdogan declared in a televised address at the end of the most active protests.
“We are here to stand against more than 50 coal fired power plants,” said Mahir Ilgiz, the lead Turkish organizer for Global Power Shift. “Let’s start shifting power here in Turkey.”
Image via 350.org Facebook Page