Photo: Inês Mateus/GLF

Ayisha Siddiqa meets Vandana Shiva: 5 things we learned

A dialogue bringing together two visions for Earth

It’s not every day that two of the world’s most inspiring women in the climate conversation get to chat about the change we need to see in the world.

But that’s exactly what occurred last October at GLF Nairobi 2023: A New Vision for Earth, when Ayisha Siddiqa, a young Pakistani American climate activist and co-founder of Polluters Out, met veteran Indian scholar, writer and food sovereignty advocate Vandana Shiva.

In case you missed it, you can now re-watch their full conversation, edited for your enjoyment.

Here are five inspiring takeaways from Siddiqa and Shiva’s conversation. 

1. Love conquers all

Love is still the only revenge. It grows each time the Earth is set on fire. But for what it’s worth, I’d do this again. Gamble on humanity one hundred times over. Commit to life unto life, as the trees fall and take us with them. I’d follow love into extinction.

Ayisha Siddiqa

In front of a crowd of 744 in Nairobi, Kenya, with 6,600 more joining online, Siddiqa recited her heartbreaking poem ‘On another panel about climate, they ask me to sell the future and all I’ve got is a love poem,’ written about hope, persistence and love in the face of the mounting climate crisis.

Ayisha Siddiqa
Photo: Inês Mateus/GLF

2. Mother Earth knows what to do

The Earth is living, and we need to get out of the illusion that she’s just dead matter for extraction and exploitation. She carries the solutions.

Vandana Shiva

Our extractive society has us convinced that the Earth is a bottomless reservoir of natural resources for us to extract infinitely from. Shiva reminds us that the Earth is still alive and has created the conditions for humanity to exist in the first place.

3. We are both the problem and the solution

In our time on planet Earth, we’ve caused a great deal more damage than any species to come before us. But at the same time, because we’re a miracle of a species with the ability to figure out what problems we are creating, we also have the ability to solve those problems – at lightning speed, too.

Ayisha Siddiqa

Once again, Siddiqa shows us a path towards hope, emphasizing that it’s not too late for us to change our ways. We already know what we are doing wrong, and now, we simply need to apply what we know to tackle the climate crisis.

Vandana Shiva and Ayisha Siddiqa
Vandana Shiva and Ayisha Siddiqa’s conversation was broadcast to a live audience at GLF Nairobi 2023. GLF

4. Be young at heart

As a 70-year-old, I am a newborn everyday, willing to learn and go deeper. We have to be newborns to get out of the dystopia of the monoculture of the mind that has brought us to this crisis.

Vandana Shiva

The older we grow, the more we forget how it feels to look at the world with curiosity as a child does. Shiva reminds us to always be open to learning about the beauty of the world that surrounds us – and, in the process, realize that we must protect biodiversity to enable it to protect us.

Vandana Shiva
Photo: Inês Mateus/GLF

5. Say no to fossil fuels

We need to end the era of fossil fuels. We have six years to stay below 1.5 degrees of warming. The Global South can’t proliferate oil and gas to catch up with the colonizer’s world. We need bravery from our governments to say no and put in place measures to ensure that we as a species can thrive 100 years from now.

Ayisha Siddiqa

In these challenging times, the choices we make will be pivotal for future generations. Political leaders in the Global South face a dilemma between economic development and tackling the climate crisis, but are the two really mutually exclusive?

Siddiqa argues that it’s time to play the long game – and to understand that we must forgo fossil fuels in the short run to keep the Earth livable for centuries to come.

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