As we near the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, I find myself taking a trip down memory lane. My mind often takes flight, chasing distant memories. At times, I laugh by myself; at others, I tell a friend what I had just remembered, hoping that they would share my joy. Never had I thought, when I first got into climate action, that I would be standing here today and in less than a decade (although this is what I was told by my predecessors).
As a student at the Faculty of Science – Department of Physics, active and involved in all university activities, I was full of energy but with very little focus. Despite the fact that I was constantly busy, the void inside of me was unbearable. Which is not surprising given that I had been raised and taught to believe that I would leave my mark in the world. But the main question was: How? How could I do so, I was merely a first-year university student in a faraway third-world country, suffering from all kinds of challenges and facing a fast deterioration in all aspects of life? To make matters worse, the university was closed for over three months for political reasons. The void inside of me was consuming me!
While the university was closed, I remembered an old hobby and interest of mine: Nature! After much research, investigation and Googling, I found a common thread between all or most of nature’s problems in Sudan. But why? What has nature done, or what have we done to it, to deserve such suffering? This hard-to-answer question kept crossing my mind.
To learn more about the issue, I volunteered with the Sudanese Environmental Conservation Society, one of the oldest environmental institutions, founded in 1975. I kept watching, learning and working year after year, until I completed four years there.
While volunteering at the Sudanese Environmental Conservation Society, I went through different phases of growth. With every phase, I became more convinced that the solution was right in front of us, the solution is in nature! I visited many regions and witnessed how people were suffering from the scarcity of natural resources (food and water) or the unbelievable drop in rainfall, leading to the obliteration of all forms of life in many regions. I saw how conflicts emerged, how we lost pure souls for a drop of water, a stack of hay or a single grain.
The term “climate change” changed my life! I realized that we were being punished for a sin we did not commit, that we were suffering due to the wrongs of others. Given my firm belief in justice and in giving every person their due right, I decided to keep striving until climate justice is reached, in order to preserve our right for development, in a country listed as one of the least developed in the world.
What is worse is our responsibility towards our planet and the future generations. That is my main driver. What will we say to them? Will any of us have a future to begin with? I joined several global and regional youth organizations working for the climate, and I discovered that young people were working hard and dedicating themselves for this cause. I also found out that Sudan was not the only country that was suffering, but that the entire world was too, although the impact differs from one place to another.