Stories written by Kumi Naidoo
Kumi Naidoo is the executive director of Greenpeace International.

COP26: Climate Justice Begins with the Human Right to Water

As the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) is swiftly moving to its conclusion on Friday, climate justice could not be more urgent or timely.

Necessary Extinction

When the environment changes, smart creatures adapt. And, in the face of a changing climate and changing economics, smart people are backing green energy. In 2011 almost a third of new electricity came from renewable sources. But, just as the first mammals had to contend with a world of dinosaurs, the pioneers of green energy have to contend with a world based on an obsolete carbon-based energy system that refuses to upgrade.

OP-ED: Iran Nuclear Crisis Needs ‘Disruptive Diplomacy’, Not Shock and Awe

Disruptive diplomacy may be the only way out of the Iran-Israel nuclear crisis, the only way to pierce the hegemony of hypocrisy dominating the power politics of nuclear weapons control, of those who have them, and of those who are accused of developing them.

Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, said Africa will be looking to a binding treaty at COP 17.  Credit: CIVICUS

Q&A: Africa Keen to Ensure Kyoto Protocol Survives

Durban should not be the burial ground for the Kyoto Protocol, says Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International, about his expectations from the 17th United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change happening in his hometown in South Africa later this year.

Kumi Naidoo. Credit: Greenpeace

OP-ED: Drilling Deep Mistakes in the Arctic

Nuuk is a long way from my hometown of Durban, and the Arctic is a long way for an African to come to campaign about climate change. Yet, here I sit, in a jail cell, with my colleague Ulvar Arnkvaern, in the ‘Institution’, a prison in Greenland’s capital. I sit here for breaching an exclusion zone and climbing aboard a dangerous deep water drilling rig some 120 km off Greenland’s coast.


"Smothered in white mud", to quote South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, Davos is a long way from the Durban township where I grew up. It is as far from my comfort zone as I'm likely to get. Yet, this was the tenth time in 12 years that I found my self cloistered in the expensive and exclusive resort surrounded by the corporate world's aristocracy and a great many presidents and prime ministers.

 - Fabricio Vanden Broeck

Good Omens for Climate Pact in Durban 2011

The fact that an international climate deal is possible at next year's climate summit in Durban, South Africa is a good omen for the future of our planet, writes South African Kumi Naidoo, head of Greenpeace International.


Next year will be another big year for civil society, a year which will see every effort focused on achieving climate justice: getting a good deal for the climate out of the United Nations World Conference on Climate Change in Durban, but also making sure that governments and corporations take action outside of the so-called political process.


As the new Executive Director of Greenpeace International I am often asked what changes I plan to make for the organisation. The response I give is one which I believe applies to Civil Society as a whole: I would like us to become even more inclusive in our membership, even more united with other groups in our work, even more determined in talking truth to power, and even more active all around the globe.

Kumi Naidoo, head of Greenpeace International Credit: Claudia Ciobanu/IPS

Q&A: Global Economic Apartheid Is Obstacle to Fair Climate Deal

"Climate change is an opportunity to deal with all the issues of equity and justice that we have been struggling for all along," said Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International in an interview with IPS on Thursday in Copenhagen.


For those of us focused on eradicating poverty and inequality, the greatest risk about the G20 summit was that the richest countries would use the global financial downturn to cut back on aid commitments and put the interests of their own countries first. This would spell disaster for the millions of people suffering from rising hunger and climate change and living in deep poverty across the developing world.

 Credit:  Zahira Kharsany/IPS

Q&A: Marathon Struggle To End Poverty

Since 2005, the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) has mobilised millions of unionists, activists, and ordinary people to demand an end to poverty and inequality.


Zimbabwe\'s new political pact, though a 180-degree turn from violence and deadlock to cooperation and progress, is unlikely to create sustainable change for the country, writes Kumi Naidoo, Honourary President of CIVICUS. In this article, Naidoo writes that the power-sharing agreement would leave Mugabe as president and make opposition leader Tsvangirai prime minister. The national healing that the agreement alludes to will require a realistic acknowledgement of the fact that it was the Mugabe government\'s past policies and actions that destroyed Zimbabwe\'s economy and threatened to decimate its people. A realistic assessment of that past starts with the recognition of the government\'s use of violence and intimidation. The acceptance of the past is the only viable foundation for instituting an effective system of transitional justice for the people of Zimbabwe. But this kind of realism will be difficult to attain with President Mugabe continuing to hold any amount of power.


In a frightening turn, torture has made its way back into the public debate, with the governments that supposedly advocate democracy and freedom coming to its defence, writes Kumi Naidoo, former Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation. In this article, the author writes that President Bush recently all but acknowledged the use of torture against suspected terrorists and essentially condoned its practice by US officials when he vetoed a bill outlawing torture. This decision comes in the wake of recent testimony by CIA director Michael Hayden that the agency has used waterboarding techniques on detainees. For the US to publicly admit and condone torture undermines the efficacy of the Convention Against Torture, which the US ratified in 1984, and undermines the positive work of many American activists and progressive politicians who have advocated for political freedom and good treatment of detainees. The message this approach sends is clear: If you can justify it, torture is okay (look, even the Americans do it!).


With Russia\'s presidential elections -- notoriously a time of clampdown on dissent -- looming, it is important to ask whether non-governmental organisations (NGOs) there will be able to freely go about their legitimate activities, whether providing services, election monitoring, or holding the government to account, asks Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, and Tanzilya Salimdjanova, associate at CIVICUS - Civil Society Watch programme. In this analysis, the author writes that while in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, anti-NGO campaigns and policies were quickly implemented with devastating impact after independence, in Russia there is still time and space to advocate for civil society and support NGOs and human rights activists in their efforts to prevent civil society space from vanishing altogether. As Russia is a gravitational force, its moves towards protecting or suffocating civil society will play a huge role in influencing the policies of surrounding countries. Let us hope that they choose the path of openness, cooperation, and providing space for their vital partners in civil society.


In the last twelve months we have seen civil society organisations challenged by political threats to civil society\'s right to exist, by the need to improve its internal governance, and by the threats that face humankind, from climate change crisis to poverty and inequality, writes Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of CIVICUS: A World Alliance for Citizen Participation. In this article the author writes that in 2007 civil society found itself under attack in many countries around the world. In Ethiopia peaceful anti-poverty campaigners Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie are still in prison after 25 months on charges of conspiring to overthrow the government. The verdict of their case is due on 24 December, 2007. In Burma (Myanmar) we saw a vicious state-sponsored crackdown on civil society expressing its right to assembly and expression. In Pakistan activists, lawyers, and campaigners were the victims of President Pervez Musharraf\'s imposition of emergency rule. Unfortunately these are not isolated cases but a few of many continuing attempts across the globe to clamp down on dissenting voices, often in the name of the \'war on terror\'. These are being waged increasingly through legislation to restrict civil society\'s legitimate work.


It was in Germany in 1884 that Africa was carved up randomly and its communities destroyed by the dominant world powers; is it to redress this that the G8 summit in Germany is focused on poverty relief and climate change? asks Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of CIVICUS, chair of Global Call for Action Against Poverty (GCAP). In this article, Naidoo writes of the need to involve those whose situation we aim to improve in formulating the shape and direction of assistance offered to them. This is not just a moral call but a matter of basic human rights. Aid is not a panacea; increasing aid should come with increased efforts to make aid work. We need both more and better aid, fairer trade conditions, and renewed efforts to lift the debt burden, so that the promises made truly improve the lives of the poorest. It is the G8\'s duty to ensure that this happens. 123 years after the Berlin Conference and 61 years after the Marshall Plan, Germany has an opportunity to change its legacy. It could be remembered not only as the place where Africa\'s woes began but also as the place where impoverished nations got the chance they needed to recover, once and for all. Just as Germany benefited from the Marshall plan, surely a global Marshall, or perhaps Merkel, plan now makes sense. It would ensure that future generations live in a world with political, social, economic, gender, and environmental justice.

Kumi Naidoo, secretary general of CIVICUS Credit: Moyiga Nduru

Q&A: “We’re Living in a World of Global Economic Apartheid”

Less than a fortnight remains before the seventh annual World Assembly of CIVICUS - the World Alliance for Citizen Participation. This Johannesburg-based body brings together non-governmental organisations from across the spectrum to strengthen civil society, notably where its activities are under threat.


Africans have to stand in solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe by holding their governments to the democratic principles which they profess, writes Kumi Naidoo, secretary general of CIVICUS, an international network of civil society organisations In this analysis, Naidoo writes that the myriad of problems the country faces must be addressed on several levels and, most important, these efforts should focus on the citizens of the country. Civil society organisations are integral to this equation. However, government threats against civil society are increasing and there are legal limitations on their work, particularly in organising public meetings. And there has been a frightening rise in both open and clandestine attacks against peaceful civic activists.


Gender equality is a challenge to all men and women who want to create a just world. During the struggle against apartheid we learnt that white people will never be free until black people are free. Similarly, men will not enjoy full freedom if women do not enjoy full gender equality, writes Kumi Naidoo, Secretary-General of CIVICUS, the Worldwide Alliance for Citizen Participation. In this article, the author writes that gender equality is central to meeting the various challenges that humanity faces. Like all social challenges, the struggle for gender equality must be equally shared by men and women. I and all fellow men will have to decide whether we are part of the problem or part of the solution. However, the leadership role of women in the fight for gender equality must be recognised and asserted at all times. Just as it would be impossible for someone who has not experienced racism to fully understand the totality of racial oppression, so too while men can be supportive of the struggle for gender equality, they can never understand the totality of gender injustice. For men and women alike it is important to recognise that we are all products of intense gender socialisation. Only once we accept this can it become clear that it takes more than a great effort to understand how we men have been socialised in a predominantly sexist world. Consequently, it will take men a lifetime to fully understand the impact of gender inequality let alone dealing with it.


One fact of globalisation is that many decisions that affect virtually all human beings everywhere, for many generations, are increasingly taken by a few, writes Kumi Naidoo, Secretary General of CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation. In this article Naidoo writes that countering this ever-increasing democratic deficit at both the domestic and international level is a major concern of this World Social Forum. One of the current challenges is the trend of increasing threats to civil society\'s very existence. These are closely associated with the so-called \'war on terror\' discourse and practice and take the form of legislation passed by an ever-growing number of countries to restrict the rights and activities of civil society. As civil society has grown more powerful, at both the national and global level, there is also increased questioning by governments and critics of the legitimacy, transparency, and accountability of civil society. Many efforts are underway to address this challenge.

Next Page »