Africa is one of the continents worst affected by the climate crisis, while it is among the lowest carbon emitters in the world, according to Ugandan climate change activist Vanessa Nakate.

She was one of the young speakers at the 10th Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture which took place virtually on Wednesday evening. The lecture coincides with retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s 89th birthday.

This year’s peace lecture focused on climate justice.

Nakate explains, “The climate crisis was the greatest threat facing humanity. Africa is the lowest emitter of CO2 emissions of all continents. But it is among the most affected by the climate crisis. Climate change greatly affects water resources, food security, infrastructure, ecosystems and people. We have seen the devastating impacts of climate change in Africa. For example- the droughts and the floods. With the increasing global temperatures, the weather patterns are disrupted, causing shorter and heavier rainy seasons and longer and hotter dry seasons. The heavy rainfalls have led to floods in different parts of the continent, leading to mass devastation and destruction of  people’s livelihoods.”

Eighteen-year-old climate justice activist, Ayakha Melithafa from Cape Town is calling on young South Africans to unite in the fight against climate change. Melithafa also participated in the Tutu International Peace Lecture. Melithafa became a climate justice activist two years ago, following the devastating drought that affected the Western Cape.

“I have been protesting with fellow activists in Cape Town and had a direct encounter with our President Mr Cyril Ramaphosa and he promised us that he was going to make sure that no African child is left behind in the 100% transition to renewable energy. And we will make sure that he keeps that promise. To the young people of South Africa, my message to you is this, we need to stop being passive. We need to stop putting each other down and criticising each other. We are powerful beyond measure and together we will truly make powerful and effective change. If we stand up, take up space and move as a unit, we will be able to tackle all of the socio-economic injustices that we are currently facing as a country,” says Melithafa.