African Climate Alliance

African Climate Alliance

African Climate Alliance is a driving force in getting young people involved in the quest for environmental change. Highlighting the importance of climate justice as an integral part of change, this organisation moulds the minds of future eco-warriors to understand the significance of Afrocentric socio-environmental education.

The organisation is centred around the importance of youth engagement, and its staff are continuously astounded by the engagement and vigour young people throughout the continent have in regard to actively contributing to the fight for change.

African Climate Alliance began after the 2019 protests that voiced concerns about climate injustice in Cape Town. As protests against climate change are usually approached through a Westernised lens, the organisation makes an effort to alter this constrictive framework into a redefined and innovative structure of environmental justice in and for Africa.

Afrocentric climate literacy and social inclusion are at the forefront of its adjusted metric; African Climate Alliance provides a voice for the voiceless and creates a platform for open communication and community collaboration. It strives to continue forming youth-centred climate alliances throughout the continent. One of its top achievements in the fight for change was an open letter addressed to the African Union, voicing concerns about climate justice.

From youth education to advocacy programmes, this operation provides a state of active involvement for the next generation of environmental activists and leaders. With more than 700 young people in 21 different African countries declaring their support, this organisation is a woven tapestry of diverse perspectives coming together in the fight against climate change.

Afrocentric climate literacy and social inclusion are at the forefront

Author - Louise Bell
Michelin Group

Michelin Group

Michelin Group and Pride in Tyres

Pride & Tyres in Bloemfontein won the award for Clean air and the quality of life: Management of emissions: Renewable/Green solutions to South Africa’s dependence on fossil fuels, carbon tax and carbon markets. Supporting a just transition away from coal. The innovative solution that was jointly deployed by Northswan Engineering and Michelin Tyre Company, South Africa. This award recognised Pride & Tyres efforts to switch from Coal for generating electricity necessary to run their re-treading operations. It is estimated that this switch will help save 13.741 tonnes of carbon emissions per month, significantly lessening its impact on the environment.

Laura du Toit |
Mbali Brigette Mathebula

Mbali Brigette Mathebula

Vukani Environmental Justice Movement in Action

Mbali Brigette Mathebula discovered the colossal voice that a small community can have.

Hailing from eMalahleni — “the place of coal” — Mathebula is a first-hand observer of the effect of pollution on her community’s health. A satellite data analysis by Greenpeace Africa in 2018 revealed that eMalahleni tops the charts as one of the world’s largest nitrogen dioxide hotspots. This harmful gas contributes to the formation of fine particles, known as PM2.5, and ozone, two of the most dangerous air pollutants.

Mathebula therefore takes climate change seriously. She realises that the consequences of pollution affect her community directly — not only now, but increasingly in the future.

She regards raising her children as her proudest accomplishment. After the harrowing realisation of their declining health, Mathebula says: “I couldn’t be quiet anymore as my girls were affected. I don’t wish this upon any other person, so I vowed to speak up and raise awareness around my community.”

Her own voice of awareness has been amplified by her involvement with the Vukani Environmental Movement (VEM). This community-based organisation was established in 2016 to address environmental issues that local communities face.

In March 2022, VEM was integral in the ruling of the #DeadlyAir case — a triumph for environmental justice. The high court recognised the poor air quality in Mpumalanga’s Highveld region as a breach of residents’ constitutional right to have the environment protected from pollution, and to live in an environment that is not harmful to their health and wellbeing.
Mathebula advocates an uncontaminated environment and community. “I wish that everyone could play a role in taking care of the environment and change their way of thinking that coal is the solution,” she says. “I wish that we [could] realise that a good life without fossil fuels is possible.”

I vowed to speak up and raise awareness around my community

Simon Dey |
Sibusiso Mazomba

Sibusiso Mazomba

Youth advocate and student
African Climate Alliance and Youth@SAIIA

Sibusiso Mazomba’s aim is to share the important connection humankind has with nature. He says: “I would like more South Africans to understand our dependence on nature — we rely on our environment for the air we breathe, the food we eat and the water we drink. Nature positivity contributes to our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.”

As a climate justice activist with a keen interest in youth participation in policy- and decision-making, Mazomba is a youth policy member at the African Climate Alliance. The not-for-profit organisation aims to mobilise youth across Africa to partake in the climate change movement. Mazomba’s particular focus is raising awareness about the harm fossil fuels wreak on our environment.

Currently a third-year student at the University of Cape Town, majoring in oceanography and environmental and geographical science, Mazomba is part of the Youth@SAIIA delegation that participated in this year’s 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference. He returned as a junior negotiator for a second time, focusing on climate empowerment and protection of the oceans.

Mazomba imagines a world in which our relationship with nature is more considered in urban planning. We need to rekindle our connection with nature so that it can be appreciated and protected through collective action. “With or without us, nature will recover from human-induced destruction, so it is in our interest that we begin to restore and protect our natural systems.”

Mazomba lives up to his words. He’s been instrumental in advocating for the Johannesburg Youth Climate Action Plan, a policy that will inform the city’s climate action for the next decade. He looks forward to climate organisations in South Africa becoming more collaborative in their efforts, in making meaningful climate change decisions and implementing effective action.

With or without us, nature will recover from human-induced destruction

Olive Klara Hodge |
Themba Patrick Khumalo

Themba Patrick Khumalo

Secretary and co-founder
Sukumani Environmental Justice

“People need to understand that it is their constitutional right to live in an environment that is not harmful to their wellbeing. Nature and the environment cannot fight for itself. It is us who must protect it for generations to come,” says Themba Patrick Khumalo.

When he cofounded Sukumani Environmental Justice (SEJ) in 2019, its goal was to assist coal mining-affected communities in challenging the industry and to highlight the effects of Ikwezi Mining’s operations on his hometown of Dannhauser. The mining company’s promises of job creation had originally filled the community with hope, but the reality of coal mining in the area was: blasting damaging property, cattle losing grazing land, local rivers and dams being contaminated and people feeling the effects of inhaling coal dust. So, when Ikwezi Mining announced its plans to expand operations to the nearby town of Shepstone Lake, Khumalo and his SEJ colleagues leapt into action. They organised community meetings with key stakeholders and the Shepstone Lake community, in which they discussed the effects of coal mining.

When it became clear that people were unhappy, SEJ conducted a door-to-door petition to force the company to put forward a clear plan on how it would minimise its effects on the environment and people’s health. And, as that plan is yet to emerge, SEJ was able to halt Ikwezi Mining’s operations. Khumalo believes educating communities is the key to ensuring the protection of the environment — and the people who call it home — for generations to come. Along with two other SEJ members, Khumalo attended the Rights and Remedies course by GroundWork Environmental Justice School and the Centre for Environmental Rights, enabling the organisation to host community workshops that educate people on their rights and empower them to make informed decisions.

People need to understand that it is their constitutional right to live in an environment that is not harmful to their wellbeing

Jessica Littlewood |