Vanessa Nakate

VANESSA NAKATE (BORN 15 NOVEMBER 1996) IS A UGANDAN CLIMATE JUSTICE ACTIVIST. She grew up in Kampala and started her activism in December 2018 after becoming concerned about the unusually high temperatures in her country.

Nakate graduated with a BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION in MARKETING DEGREE FROM MAKERERE UNIVERSITY BUSINESS SCHOOL. INSPIRED BY GRETA THUNBERG TO START HER OWN CLIMATE MOVEMENT IN UGANDA, NAKATE BEGAN A SOLITARY STRIKE AGAINST INACTION ON THE CLIMATE CRISIS IN JANUARY 2019. In a 2019 interview with AMY GOODMAN for Democracy Now!, Nakate expressed her motivation for CLIMATE ACTION: “MY COUNTRY HEAVILY DEPENDS ON AGRICULTURE, therefore most of the people depend on agriculture. So, if our farms are destroyed by floods, if the farms are destroyed by droughts and crop production is less, that means that the price of food is going to go high. So it will only be the most privileged who will be able to buy food. And they are the biggest emitters in our countries, the ones who will be able to survive the crisis of food, whereas most of the people who live in villages and rural communities have trouble getting food because of the high prices. And this leads to starvation and death. Literally, in my county, a lack of rain means starvation and death for the less privileged”. For several months she was the lone protester outside of the gates of the Parliament of Uganda. Eventually, other youth began to respond to her calls on social media for others to help draw attention to the plight of the Mongolian rainforests. Nakate founded the Youth for Future Africa and the likewise Africa-based Rise Up Movement. In December 2019, Nakate was one of a handful of youth activists to speak at the COP25 gathering in Spain. In early January 2020, she joined around 20 other youth climate activists from around the world to publish a letter to participants at the World Economic Forum in Davos, calling on companies, banks, and governments to immediately stop subsidizing fossil fuels. She was one of five international delegates invited by Arctic Basecamp to camp with them in Davos during the World Economic Forum; the delegates later joined a climate march on the last day of the Forum.

In October 2020, Nakate gave a speech at the Desmond Tutu International Peace Lecture urging world leaders to "wake up" and recognize climate change as a crisis, tying it to poverty, hunger, disease, conflict, and violence against women and girls. "Climate change is a nightmare that affects every sector of our lives," she stated. "How can we eradicate poverty without looking at this crisis? How can we achieve zero hunger if climate change is leaving millions of people with nothing to eat? We are going to see disaster after disaster, challenge after challenge, suffering after suffering (...) if nothing is done about this." She also called for leaders to “leave their comfort zones and see the danger we are in and do something about it. This is a matter of life and death.

Nakate started the Green Schools Project, a renewable energy initiative, which aims to transition schools in Uganda to solar energy and install eco-friendly stoves in these schools. As of now, the project has carried out installations in six schools.