Urge the Namibian President to Save the Okavango Delta – Youth Climate Activists

PUBLISHED: Fri, 26 Mar 2021 12:55:05 GMT

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After months of protests and campaigning, youth climate activists in Namibia are urging the public to send an email to Namibian President H.E. Dr. Hage G. Geingob to save the Okavango Delta from the threat of oil exploration in the environmentally sensitive area. [1]

Last year, news that a Canadian oil and gas exploration company, ReconAfrica, planned the go-ahead with “conventional” and “non-conventional” drilling (ie fracking) in some of Africa’s most sensitive environmental areas sent shockwaves all over the world. The gas giant indicated that it planned to begin oil exploration in the Namibian headwaters of the Okavango Delta and the Tsodilo Hills, a World Heritage Site in Botswana.

Youth climate activists in the Namibian capital, along with several other environmental and human rights groups, reacted with international calls from all fronts to prevent the impending environmental catastrophe that not only impacts the area’s biodiversity – which includes a number of endangered species – but also communities who depend on the Kavango Basin to sustain their livelihoods. [2]

“The oil needs to stay in the ground,” said Ina-Maria Shikongo, a Fridays for Future (FFF) activist in Windhoek. “The exploitation would be a catastrophe – not only for the global climate, but also for wildlife, water resources and the livelihoods of local people”.

The ecological impacts of the projects are likely to be devastating. It would not only threaten bodies of water in the dry savannas of Namibia, but also Botswana’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Okavango Delta, with its unique biodiversity and huge populations of elephants, hippos, rhinos and birds. [3] Tourism, an important source of income, is in danger while other livelihood strategies of indigenous San and local people also hang in the balance.

The project has already left a number of communities in the northeast of Namibia displaced, and those affected are afraid to speak up against corrupt politicians involved in the deal. Fridays For Future Windhoek leveraged on last week’s global climate strike to challenge their leadership to address the unjust occupation of land. [4]

“Maybe he needs to see for himself how many people this affects. Maybe then he will understand why we are desperately trying to stop fracking in the Okavango Delta,” said Shikongo.

“They call anyone who stands up to their plan a hooligan. They’ve even called me a white environmentalist with an agenda – as if we, black people, do not care about ourselves or our environment,” said Shikongo. “We have to prove them wrong. All Africans must take a stand and tell the Namibian president to do what is best for us and not these industries that use us.”

To date, nearly 150,000 people have signed a petition by Rainforest Rescue supporting their mission to save the Okavango Delta. [5] Now, Fridays For Future Windhoek is urging people to send direct messages to the Namibian presidency by visiting www.Vuma.earth.

Notes to Editor:
[1] Direct link to email (https://bit.ly/3tXeAux) for the Namibian President
[2] A comprehensive timeline (https://bit.ly/2NV1KO1) of critical events and protest action from 1991 to date
[3] More information on the environmental significance of the Okavango Delta on the UNESCO website (https://bit.ly/2QKt2Id)
[4] Fridays For Future Windhoek Facebook Page (https://bit.ly/3lT6rV6), Twitter (https://bit.ly/2P8nQgE), Instagram (https://bit.ly/3fgaCsR)
[5] Link to the Rainforest Rescue petition (https://bit.ly/31nxFcY)
[6] Members of the media are also encouraged to join dedicated Telegram groups for imagery (https://bit.ly/3rngPpq) and press releases (https://bit.ly/3sCzX3S)
[7] Press Release: Fridays for Future: ReconAfrica’s Kavango oil and gas play is ‘carbon bomb’ with projected 1/6 of world’s remaining CO2 budget view here (https://bit.ly/3lV5Ty7)

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Fridays for Future Namibia.

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About Friday’s For Future:
The global climate strike movement began in August 2018, when then 15-year-old Greta Thunberg (https://bit.ly/3waft55) began to skip class on Fridays and sat outside the Swedish parliament to demand her government took the climate situation seriously. In the three weeks leading up to the Swedish election, she sat outside Swedish Parliament every school day, demanding urgent action on the climate crisis. She was tired of society’s unwillingness to see the climate crisis for what it is: a crisis. Soon, youths across the world joined her example, taking their future into their hands and inspiring peaceful marches across the planet.

FFF’s principal goal is to place moral pressure on policymakers, and demand they listen to the scientists, so as to take forceful action to limit global heating. FFF is independent of commercial interests and ideology and knows no borders. FFF protests for our planet and for each other. There is reason to hope humanity can change and avert the worst of climate disasters, and build a better future.

Established in 2019 Friday’s For Future Windhoek seeks to raise awareness among Namibians of the Climate and Ecological Emergency. The locally led youth organisation has rallied behind calls to stop oil and gas drilling in Namibia’s treasured Kavango region to avert a true planetary disaster in our own backyard.

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