Health justice campaigner Guppi on centring Global South activists at COP26, campaigning on the things you love and building relationships in your community

Campaign Bootcamp trainer Nim caught up with Bootcamp speaker Guppi about how the climate justice movement has changed in the last 10 years, campaigning on the things you care about and more

Tell us a bit about yourself and what brought you to COP26

 I’m Guppi and I’m a health justice campaigner. I came to COP26 this year partly on a nostalgia trip because I used to live in Glasgow and have been involved in COP campaigning from my early years as a climate activist. I also met my partner at COP!  So yeah, there is massive nostalgia for me here. 

But one of the main reasons I’m here is because, in the last 10 years as a health justice campaigner, I’ve noticed how important the conversation around the health impacts of climate change is becoming. I’m witnessing more and more people organising around health justice in connection with climate issues. So I’ve been really excited about that.

I love that conversations around reparations for the Global South and for working class communities internationally are now part of the mainstream climate movement. 

Awesome. I didn’t realise you and your partner met at COP!

We did, kind of. We were both part of International Youth Delegations at a COP assembly. But we didn’t meet properly until two or three years later.

So you can find love in the climate movement, and you can find love in a hopeless place. Make love, not war. That’s one reason to get involved in climate justice!  What’s been your highlight campaigning around COP26 so far?

The event that I really loved attending was organised by the People’s Health Movement on Sunday [7th November]. Hearing testimonies of people’s experiences of health as a result of the extractive economy and climate crisis from all over the world.

Think about the things that you love, the things that you care about, the things that you cherish and find sacred, and to start from there as part of your [campaigning] journey. 

Space to give testimony around your experience is really a healing process, and part of the work that has to be centred on a reparations strategy. I love that conversations around reparations for the Global South and working-class communities internationally are now part of the mainstream climate movement. 

What’s the one thing you would tell people who are passionate about climate justice but don’t know how to start campaigning on it?

Climate will have an impact on everyone and in all areas of our lives. Irrespective of what you have, what you feel, you are experiencing climate change. And so that’s a really great entry point for you. Think about the things that you love, the things that you care about, the things that you cherish and find sacred, and start from there as part of your journey. 

Make sure you question how the climate crisis intersects with that, and how you begin organising around it, because it’s organising around the things that you love. That is probably the most sustaining form of activism.

 I have an interest in the body, and in healing bodily systems and our relationships with the environment. So, that’s how I motivate myself [organising around the things you care about]. It’s what keeps me engaged and wanting to build more relationships with others.

If you can find that interest and move from there, then that’s a good start. And you definitely don’t need to be an expert of any kind. The best thing about any form of activism, even if it isn’t directly related to climate [justice], is the relationships that you build and the community that you establish as a result.  if you feel good in that, then that’s great.

Thanks so much, Guppi!

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