Sarah Robyn Farrell

2020/079857/08

What does your company do?

African Climate Alliance is a youth-led, grassroots, movement-based organisation acting and advocating for Afrocentric climate justice. The organisation works through four programme areas: education, advocacy, action and ambassadors. Our education programme was born out of the urgent need for accessible, Afrocentric climate change literacy for youth in Africa, especially for those living in underserved areas. We host workshops and dialogues, and build resources with the aim of creating a safe and inclusive space for socio-environmental learning. The Ambassador programme aims to build the capacity of young climate justice activists across Africa, through a year long training, exposure, and practical experiences. Our action programme focuses on collaborating with civil society and community-based organisations, as well as schools to partner in actions which call for transformative and restorative climate justice. Our focus for our action programme has been provincially in the Western Cape and Nationally in South Africa. However, we have also brought Africa-wide issues to our South African government through collaboration and solidarity. Our advocacy programme focuses on amplifying youth voices in climate justice in Africa, and capacitating young people to engage in advocacy in their communities while contributing to the shaping of climate policy such as the Climate Change Bill. At the heart of all that we do is building accessible and inclusive socio-environmental literacy and capacity in young people to lead on climate justice initiatives in their own communities. Our vision is to build a grassroots climate justice movement in Africa where youth are equipped with Afrocentric socio-environmental education to act, advocate and achieve climate justice in their communities while being active participants in building a green economy through social entrepreneurship and green jobs.

What is your biggest success?

When I was young I by-chance met Nelson Mandela coming out of a lift. I stood up in awe as he approached me. He put his hand on my chin and lifted my in-awe face to meet his kind eyes. He smiled and said to me: "the youth are the future of this country." I think of that often and feel so immensely proud that I have played a part in creating an organisation that is not only youth-led, and is generating opportunities for youth but that is also focused on creating a better future for young people across this beautiful country and continent. One of our greatest achievements as an organisation will always be the way in which ACA has acted as a springboard for youth to enter the local and international climate justice movement, giving them an entry point paired with tools of confidence and knowledge.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

On a personal level, I have overcome a lot of personal challenges related to my own experiences with gender based violence, mental health and the loss of people in my life such as my mother who lost her battle with depression in 2020. While challenging, this has made me a more empathetic, strong and resilient servant leader. As an organisation one of our biggest challenges was when we were in our infancy and all acting as volunteers. I was an environmental communications consultant at the time and had reached burn out trying to juggle everything alongside my personal grief. I took a leap of faith and ended my consulting work to apply for funding. Within one month we confirmed funding for the new year and I took a two month sabbatical to come back refreshed to take on the role of managing director to further formalise and establish the organisation.