#EarthToMarrakech: Messages to World Leaders on Action, Hope and Optimism

By Harriet Shugarman, ClimateMama

November 3, 2016

#EarthToMarrakech: Hear me now — our planet’s message to world leaders is almost deafening and yet it’s urgency remains largely unheard. It’s up to us to change this.  Government, industry and community representatives from close to 200 countries are gathering in Marrakech, Morocco. November 7- 18, 2016 at COP22 they will detail and expand the hopeful and challenging Paris Agreement reached in December 2015 at COP21 (the 21st Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)).  

This year alone, Earth’s message has been delivered in many forms including: catastrophic floods, droughts, super-storms, climate refugees and sea level rise. Earth’s message also includes hopeful and miraculous reminders: the brilliant fall canvas of vibrant orange, gold, red and yellow displayed by autumn leaves in the northern hemisphere, the incredible migratory feats of the majestic humpback whale, and the delicate yet relentless monarch butterfly.

I wanted to share with you some of the amazing messages and reminders to world leaders that have strengthened me over the years; messages from children, mothers and grandmothers who have stood up and spoken out on climate change unafraid and unapologetic.

Severn Suzuki (12 years old), Founder Environmental Children’s Organization

“I am fighting for my future. Here, you may be delegates of your governments, business people, organizers, reporters or politicians – but really you are mothers and fathers, brothers and sister, aunts and uncles – and all of you are somebody’s child. I’m only a child, yet I know we are all part of a family, five billion strong, in fact, 30 million species strong and we all share the same air, water and soil – borders and governments will never change that. I’m only a child yet I know we are all in this together and should act as one single world towards one single goal. In my anger, I am not blind, and in my fear, I am not afraid of telling the world how I feel.”

United Nations Earth Summit, Brazil, 1992


Bella Abzug  Founder, Women’s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO)

“In the face of so much pain, I remain an incurable optimist. I am fueled by the passion of the women I have been privileged to meet and work with, buoyed by their hope for peace, justice and democracy. I am strengthened by each of them… Never underestimate the importance of what we are doing here. Never hesitate to tell the truth. And never, ever give in or give up.”

Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing,China 1995

Wangari Maathai, Kenyan Environmentalist and Founder of the Green Belt Movement

“One day a terrible fire broke out in a forest – a huge woodlands was suddenly engulfed by a raging wild fire. Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran out of the forest. As they came to the edge of a stream they stopped to watch the fire and they were feeling very discouraged and powerless. They were all bemoaning the destruction of their homes. Every one of them thought there was nothing they could do about the fire, except for one little hummingbird. This particular hummingbird decided it would do something. It swooped into the stream and picked up a few drops of water and went into the forest and put them on the fire. Then it went back to the stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again. All the other animals watched in disbelief; some tried to discourage the hummingbird with comments like, ‘Don’t bother, it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop, you can’t put out this fire.’ And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the bird noticed how hopeless and forlorn they looked. Then one of the animals shouted out and challenged the hummingbird in a mocking voice, ‘What do you think you are doing?’ And the hummingbird, without wasting time or losing a beat, looked back and said, ‘I am doing what I can.’”

Royal Geological Society/Botanical GardensConservation International, London, England, February 2007

Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Marshallese poet

“There are those who see us hands reaching out fists raising up banners unfurling megaphones booming and we are canoes blocking coal ships, we are the radiance of solar villages, we are the rich clean soil of the farmer’s past,  we are petitions blooming from teenage fingertips, we are families biking, recycling, reusing, engineers dreaming, designing, building, artists painting, dancing, writing. We are spreading the word and there are thousands out on the street marching with signs hand in hand chanting for change NOW. They’re marching for you, baby they’re marching for us because we deserve to do more than just survive we deserve to thrive.”

UN ClimateLeaders Summit, United Nations Headquarters, September 2014


Christiana Fugueres, Climate Advocate | Former Executive Secretary of UNFCCC

“I’m the first one to recognize that we have a lot of work still to do. We’ve only just started our work on climate change. And in fact, we need to make sure that we redouble our efforts over the next five years that are the urgent five years. But I do believe that we have come over the past six years from the impossible to the now unstoppable. And how did we do that? By injecting transformational optimism that allowed us to go from confrontation to collaboration, that allowed us to understand that national and local interests are not necessarily at odds with global needs, and that if we understand that, we can bring them together and we can merge them harmoniously.”

TED Talk, February, 2016

Our message to Marrakech as parents, guardians and elders must be one that continues to demand the truth, to call out for strong leadership that leads by example. Some of us can do a lot, and some only a little; but like the story of the hummingbird, we all must do something. We, the people, have helped generate the momentum and the power to move climate action forward and we must continue the pressure and hold our world leaders accountable.

Yours in hope, faith and resolve,


Take Action Challenge

Share these strong voices of optimism, hope and inspiration that resonate today as powerfully as they did on the day they were delivered. Let’s help remind delegates to the Marrakech Climate conference to be strong and forceful in their resolve to put climate promises into time bound, measurable and enforceable actions and policies. Learn more at EarthToMarrakech.org and join the conversation via #EarthToMarrakech.

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