top of page


  • Sustainable Queen

Nelson Mandela and His Fight for Climate Justice!

Nelson Mandela is best known for his fight to dismantle apartheid by addressing institutionalised racism and for his goal of encouraging racial discrimination. Did you know that his fight for justice was also extended to climate justice?

Let’s find out more through this week's sus. live blog!

Most people know Nelson Mandela for his struggle against apartheid in South Africa. But throughout his long walk to freedom, he made strides toward addressing the enormous issue of climate change. In his ideal society, everyone would be able to live in complete dignity, with access to clean water and air, and poor nations would not be burdened by the effects of rich nations' immoral behaviour. Although it may seem utopian at first glance, Mandela was very committed to this cause, knowing that even if it could not be achieved in every way, a positive impact and difference could and should be made.

Giving Africans access to clean water has been one of Mandela's top priorities during the past ten years. In his speech entitled "No Water, No Future", delivered at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002, Nelson Mandela emphasised that bringing clean water to many more people than was previously the case, was one of the most important achievements of the African government and a step towards democracy in Africa.

His fight continued as six years before his passing, Nelson Mandela established The Elders, a global network of leaders from all cultures, including former US President Jimmy Carter and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, to develop human rights-based solutions to global issues?

Climate justice, which aims to protect those at risk from the worst effects of climate change, is one of the group's major concerns. This goes beyond simply reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Mandela was well aware of the havoc global warming was wreaking on the world, especially on his continent, which was already destroying what the Europeans had not yet destroyed through the cruel systems of slavery, colonisation and apartheid.

With the help of Mandela and countless other advocates such as Kwame Nkrumah and Steve Biko, some Africans were able to overthrow some of these regimes; yet the struggle was real and immense! The exploitation of Africa's natural resources through the mining of oil, coal, and diamonds among others, deforestation, and other industrialized European forces resulted in increased emissions of carbon dioxide and methane, which inevitably and sadly alter ecosystems and damage habitats all over the world.

On top of that, Africa now has to deal with the import of the worst of climate change's attacks on top of Europe's ambition to exploit and export Africa's most valuable assets. This is why Mandela joined forces with other South African leaders who desire to leave behind the repressive extractive industries of the past and transition to a greener, more sustainable economy for these reasons.

Sadly, Mandela never developed a sense of appreciation for the wonders and resilience of nature until his very last years. His autobiography gave us an insight into his sustainable vision, as he fought for a roof garden in prison during his 27 years of incarceration so that he and his other inmates could produce food for their meals.

A plan to achieve climate justice was included in Nelson Mandela's fight against climate change as part of the goals to reduce poverty and promote sustainable development. After his death, his legacy remains to inspire men and women in Africa and beyond to prosper through the virtues of dedication, perseverance and the desire to preserve the land and stop desertification and other harmful forces.

In this way, we can honour Mandela's sense of service through his walk for freedom and climate justice for the greater good.

bottom of page