“Everyone can contribute and should contribute. What do you have to offer for the earth you live in?” says Witsie, Celiwe Shivambo  about the fight against climate change.

Celiwe Shivambo (21), Wits International Relations honours student, recently represented South Africa as a youth participant at the World Circular Economy Forum + Climate (WCEF+Climate)  virtual conference held between 15 –16 April 2021. 

The WCEF+Climate conference is an international conference that brings together high-level government officials, academics, business people and youth participants for a virtual discussion on the global transition to a circular economy. According to WCEF+Climate, a circular economy is an industrial system that aides sustainable development through reusing and recycling resources instead of disposing of them at the end of their production cycle.   

Shivambo was handpicked by the South African Insititute of International Affairs (SAIIA) Youth Programme to participate in the conference as an African participant concerned about the effects of climate change. “I got involved in the discourse because climate change limits the participation of black women in Africa, who happen to be the most vulnerable to climate change impact,” says Shivambo. “I believe in representation and inclusivity,” she adds.  

Shivambo hopes a circular economy can be made possible in South Africa through partnerships and collaboration between the youth, government, and businesses.  

“I think so much must be done to ensure that climate-friendly policies are implemented. But it is important to note that in the most unequal society (South Africa), we need to envision societies that can adopt an integrated and sustainable approach to tackling prevailing social and economic inequality,” she says.  

The SAIIA team says Shivambo is incredibly hard working, dedicated to climate action and ensuring that the youth voices are heard. 

“She has been a volunteer in our high school programmes and has also taken a national role in our work to raise youth voices in policy and decision-making spaces, especially on climate change and gender,” says Desiree, who heads the youth team at SAIIA. 

Shivambo is also involved in other organisations fighting against climate change and is involved in the writing of the Climate Action Plan which aims to address key climate change hazards in Johannesburg. 

“This document will be launched soon by the City of Joburg. We have outlined our demands and implementation strategies on how we want this document to come alive and speak to the residence of the city of Joburg,” she explains. 

FEATURED IMAGE: Image of Celiwe Shivambo. Photo: Provided