Written by Julian Mocine-McQueen
Director of Education and Outreach, Green For All
This past week, I joined 600 (mostly) young leaders from around the globe for phase one of Global Power Shift (GPS). Held on the campus of Istanbul Technological University in Turkey, GPS was convened by 350.org. In the face of ever-rising CO2 levels and continued failure from most governments to act, GPS is a massive worldwide push to shift power toward solutions and away from the fossil fuel economy. More than just a gathering of climate activists, GPS phase one was designed to allow national allies, neighboring countries and entire regions to sit down together and plan phase two. Phase two will launch over the next several months and will be comprised of countless coordinated campaigns and actions. I was proud to represent the United States and Green For All at this incredible gathering.
I was chosen as one of only a dozen representatives from the United States. One of the most important facts of GPS was that the participants were selected intentionally so that members of the Global North (read: Western nations/big polluters) were not over represented. Members of the Global South made up the majority of conference attendees and continually led the dialogue on solutions and strategy.
I joined GPS wearing multiple hats. First and foremost I moderated a panel on grassroots solutions to climate change, I was chosen as a member of GFA who can represent the incredible solutions being enacted throughout the States. I also helped the facilitation team run the “Storytelling For Change” curriculum I helped develop as one half of the Million Person Project. The conference was broken down into tracks, and over 200 people joined the media track and worked through the storytelling for change curriculum. A true highlight of this effort was the final plenary where three activists utilized the storytelling/public speaking technique to share the stories of their communities with all 500 conference attendees. To add icing to this cake, two of these speakers, Castory Ntullu from Tanzania and Diya Sabhanaz Rashid from Bangladesh were interviewed by CNN-Turkey immediately following their speeches.
As Director of Education and Outreach at GFA, I was able to bring many unique and powerful stories from our Fellowship community to the panel I moderated titled Enacting Positive Solutions. Four remarkable leaders from around the globe joined me on this panel. Panelist Ekta Jaju is helping members of India’s rural population access and own distributed solar arrays. Panelist Sergio Oceransky works with indigenous communities in southern Mexico to not only resist the big industry takeover of their land for wind energy creation, but to instead develop wind energy cooperatives and sell to the government-owned utility. Sergio recognizes that not all green economies are created equal. By withstanding big industries’ attempts to capture indigenous lands, he is ensuring that the new clean energy economy does not mimic the destructive and dominating traits of our current oil-based economy.
Fatimata Niang also joined the panel from Tanzania, where her work revolves around helping a new generation of women own land. She works with the women to sell carbon credits on the open market, bringing in much needed income, while at the same time reforesting lands that have been stripped of their indigenous trees and plants. Our final panelist was a world-renowned street artist Caledonia Curry who goes by the name “SWOON”. Callie uses art to help create real and lasting change in many communities, from Pittsburgh, where she is helping launch a small tile factory run by a collective of women, to Haiti, where she helped to innovate the building of cheap and incredibly beautiful buildings after the 2010 earthquake.
Having had the pleasure of working with some of the most innovative grassroots activists, organizers and innovators in the states, I was both proud to represent the work of Green For All Fellows, as it remains on the cutting edge even on the international level and floored by the level of innovation taking place throughout the world in all communities.
Global Power Shift was a remarkable display of global unity and an opportunity to see that the entire world, from Kyrgyzstan to Senegal, to Brazil, to Sweden to the tiny (1400 citizens!!!) Island nation of Tokalau is committed to continuing the fight to save our planet. It proved to me beyond certainty that whether the governments know it or not, the world’s citizens are ready to join together and work on our home fronts, and across borders to escalate the fight for a new and inclusive economy that holds space for all people and protects our planet for generations to come. Find out more about Global Power Shift here.