Meet Ugandan climate champion Vanessa Nakate, plus try on an Dyson Award-Winning Electric Shirt. Check out the Blue Communities project, and Canadian climate champion Maude Barlow.
Climate Champ Vanessa Nakate, Dyson Award-Winning Electrified Shirt, The Blue Communities Project, Climate Champ Maude Barlow
THE BLUE COMMUNITIES PROJECT
In 2009, The Council of Canadians, the Blue Planet Project and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) initiated the Blue Communities Project. The Blue Communities Project, in partnership with Eau Secours in Quebec, provides communities with the tools to fight the privatization of water and promote the human right to water. In addition, it works with local governments, community activists and water operators to ensure water justice for all.
The Blue Communities movement has grown internationally with Paris, France, Bern, Switzerland and now London, too, has gone “blue.” Schools, religious communities and faith-based groups have also adopted principles that treat water as a common good that is shared by everyone and is the responsibility of all.
What is a blue community and why does it matter to us?
A “Blue Community” is one that adopts a water commons framework which treats water as belonging to no one and is the responsibility of all. Because water is essential for human life, it must be governed by principles that allow for reasonable use, equal distribution and responsible treatment in order to preserve it for nature and future generations.
The Blue Communities Project calls on communities to adopt a water commons framework by:
- Recognizing water as a human right.
- Promoting publicly financed, owned and operated water and wastewater services.
- Banning the sale of bottled water in public facilities and at municipal events.
Yes, that last one is quite radical, but if you think about it, commonsensical. If you’re interested, you can take the Blue Communities Pledge. Learn more by clicking on the link in the Deeper Dive section at the end of this story. Just visit theclimate.org/episodes. Oh by the way, you’ll need to know French because the English link is dead.
CANADIAN CLIMATE CHAMPION MAUDE BARLOW
Climate Champion, Maude Barlow, has a great name and is a great dame!
Let’s just start with her awards, including the 2005 Right Livelihood Award (known as the “Alternative Nobel”); the 2005 Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Fellowship Award; the Citation of Lifetime Achievement at the 2008 Canadian Environment Awards; the 2009 Earth Day Canada Outstanding Environmental Achievement Award; the 2009 Planet in Focus Eco Hero Award; and the 2011 EarthCare Award, the highest international honor of the Sierra Club (US).
The Climate Daily came to know Maude Barlow during her recent, powerful presentation at the WECAN Global Women’s Assembly for Climate Justice, held last week virtually and in NYC. Maude Barlow is not just an award winner. She’s a Canadian activist and bestselling author. She’s penned 19 books, including her Blue Water Trilogy. She’s intimately involved in the Blue Communities project Jeffrey just highlighted.
Did I mention Maude Barlow was a past Senior Advisor on Water to the 63rd President of the UN General Assembly and was a leader in the campaign to have water recognized as a human right by the UN?…Did I mention she’s 74?
UGANDAN CLIMATE CHAMPION, VANESSA NAKATE
Vanessa Nakate is a climate activist from Uganda . She was the first Fridays For Future climate activist in Uganda and founder of the Rise up Climate Movement, an organization which aims to amplify the voices of activists from Africa. Says Nakate, specifically of the continent of Africa, “The climate crisis is a water crisis and we need smart water solutions. We need clean water upstream to have healthy communities.”
Dealing with climate change is about connecting with it personally before addressing it globally. Rise Up Climate Movement helps people connect to each other through its 1MILLION Activist Stories program. 1 Million Activist Stories serves as a vessel to project stories of various climate activists, hopefully inspiring readers to climate change activism.
Her work includes raising awareness to the danger of climate change, the causes and the impacts. She spearheaded the campaign to save Congo’s rainforest, which is facing massive deforestation. This campaign later spread to other countries from Africa to Europe. She is working on a project that involves installation of solar and institutional stoves in schools.
She holds a degree in Business Administration in Marketing from Makerere University Business School. Vanessa was one of the young climate activists who were chosen to speak at the COP25 gathering in Spain, and she was one of 20 climate activists who penned a letter addressed a letter to the participants of the World Economic Forum in Davos, calling on them to stop subsidizing fossil fuels.
Most recently, Nakate appeared at the Climate4Youth conference in Milan.
DYSON DESIGN FINALIST—POWER MUTUALISM
Jeffrey, you once joked that if the “photo” in photosynthesis is the same “photo” in photovoltaics, why hasn’t anybody yet learned to make electricity from plants?
Apparently, somebody is trying. Not from grass, but from microalgae. Keer Hu, a student studying at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and at Tongji University in China has created something she calls Power Mutualism. She says It’s “a wearable self-sustaining, electricity-generating biomaterial based on cyanobacteria biophotovoltaics for providing green power to small electronics and wearable sensor networks.”
In other words, it’s a shirt that looks like it has scales on it, filled with cyanobacteria micro algae. You wear it when you exercise and the shirt wicks away your slightly salty sweat and channels it into the cyanobacteria cells inside the shirt’s scales. That excites the micro algae on a cellular level, generating small amounts of electricity. Not enough to shock you, but enough electricity to power for instance, a health monitoring device.
It even comes with an LED display on one arm to show the shirt’s operating status.
Why does this matter to us? Because once somebody generates predictable, consistent electricity from micro algae through photosynthesis, somebody else will figure out how to do the same from green grass. And then all those lawns and golf courses and putting greens around the planet wasting precious water and space will actually become incredibly useful.
Why the awkward name, Power Mutualism? According to Hu, the name facilitates the collaboration between humans and microorganisms by effectively using “useless human bodily fluids” to catalyze cyanobacteria into generating electricity. Oh and one more thing. Power Mutualism promotes “negative” emissions—one step beyond zero emissions because the cyanobacteria in the fabric absorbs CO2 as part of the process.
Did I mention it’s a 2021 James Dyson foundation National Award winner for Sustainability?
DEEPER DIVE: James Dyson Awards