Nature’s Pitch and Shujaaz: the power of storytelling for climate action at COP28
- 16 Jan 2024
On Tuesday, 5th December, Shujaaz Inc hosted a panel event, to a packed event space, at COP 28 in Dubai. Our Head of Programmes and Partnerships Nya Mona Muchemi was joined on stage by a panel of powerhouse African storytellers: Kenya media personality and founder of Inua Dada Foundation Janet Mbugua, Aissatou Mila Bah, Senior Program Officer at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Stephanie Ndlovu, Co-Chair of the Board at MTV Staying Alive Foundation.
It was an energising and inspiring conversation, about how we can harness the power of storytelling – from pop-culture to news media – to build the future we need. (It was also, as the event organisers told us, the only event to illicit woops and cheers from the audience!).
This vital event would not have been possible without the partnership of our friends at Nature’s Pitch – who supported our team to host and convene our event.
Nature’s Pitch Africa are working to ensure that nature-based solutions, such as the sustainable use of natural resources – like land and freshwater sources, not only to protect the environment but also transform livelihoods. As they advocate for African solutions to African challenges, they underline that storytelling plays a crucial role.
As Founder Bea Karanja put it to us: We Africans are natural storytellers! Can we look back into the pages of history and see how we used to engage with Nature? What traditional systems of nature management and conservation did we have and how did we also use nature as a guide for life lessons? These stories were passed through folklore and tales. These stories have been passed down from generation to generation. Indigenous knowledge has so many life skills learning to offer to future generations and storytelling is the bridge to make that happen.
Nya took this message to audiences at COP 28, in a second panel event with the global leaders Tamseel Hussain, from Pluc TV, and Colin Butfield from Open Planet/Studio Silverback, the team behind Sir David Attenborough’s landmark documentaries. There, Nya joined a dynamic discussion about how we can change the narrative on climate change – and underlined why we believe that the stories we tell about the future of the planet need to be told by the communities most affected by climate change.
Our research shows that more than 85% of young people in Kenya already believe the climate is changing and that close to half of 15-24-year-olds have experienced first-hand the effects of climate change. While the effects of climate change affect us all, this generation is at the forefront of the impacts of climate change.
They are also, as the team at Nature’s Pitch agree, the key to leading Kenya’s green revolution – from adopting the latest agri-business technologies to leading conservation efforts. But too often, these stories of innovation and green economic growth don’t get told.
As Nature’s Pitch underlined to us – women across Africa are doing amazing work in ecology, and marine conservation and biodiversity – but their voices and stories in particular are rarely shared. Without sharing their stories, we cannot scale their innovation or their impact.
As Sir David Attenborough put it: ‘saving our planet is no longer a scientific challenge. It is also a communications challenge.’
We left COP with new friends, collaborators – and more inspired than ever. With the support of partners like Natures Pitch, we’re committed to mobilising the full reach and power of Shujaaz to help write a new story about climate change in Kenya and Tanzania.
As Colin Butfield put it at the end of our panel event, ‘we are here, trying to push for the greatest social change in the smallest amount of time humanity has ever seen…how are we going to do that, without changing the story?’