TckTckTck Campaign: An Interview with Kumi Naidoo


Photo by Remy Steinegger

This week something fairly monumental is taking place: It's Climate Week NYC, where among other things, top government leaders from 90 countries are gathering for the United Nations climate session. It's also time for things to kick into high gear for TckTckTck, an innovative global alliance of people, businesses, even faith groups, with a singular purpose: Make it abundantly clear the great importance they see in their country's leaders coming together for the pinnacle of this series of high level climate change focused discussions, COP15, happening in Copenhagen in December of this year.Impressive, but will it work? How is this different then before?

I had the chance to ask this and more of Kumi Naidoo, Chair of the Global Campaigning for Climate Action (GCCA) which is organizing TckTckTck. Mr. Naidoo is a long time powerhouse when it comes forging paths to a more sustainable future. He has been a part of a number of high profile board and advisory positions with renowned institutes such as the Clinton Global Initiative, Amnesty International, the World Economic Forum, and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).

Thanks for taking time with me today. It's clear you've had a lot of experience working with climate related NGOs, and Greenpeace has enough confidence in your experience they want you to be their next Executive Director. From your perspective, are we making progress on getting the government and the public knowing about and caring about climate change? Clearly you're heading up TckTckTck to accelerate this, but what progress of note has been made so far, and what can we learn from that?

We are definitely making progress on getting governments and the public to know, and care about, climate change. Since the TckTckTck campaign launched, we've registered over a million pledges and it's growing at a terrific rate. When you look at our list of partner organizations, e.g. Oxfam, Greenpeace and Avaaz, one of the exciting things is that this campaign is not just supported by the usual suspects; we also have groups such as The World Council of Churches on board. Nonetheless, we recognize that we need to do more if we are to get global leaders to sit up and take notice, to commit to attending Copenhagen and to secure a fair, ambitious and binding deal. Governments already recognize the importance of action on climate change but will only commit to action if the public demonstrate that it is a priority for them.

Climate change is being given high prominence next week, with World leaders and heads of state from over 90 countries attending the United Nation's climate session in NYC. Is there any TckTckTck activity planned and what can our readers do to get involved?

Next week is Climate Week NYC and there is a huge number of climate events and activities planned, both in New York and around the world. On Sunday 20, thousands of people will form a choreographed human sculpture in Central Park, New York organized by TckTckTck partner Oxfam. This event is designed to provide a 'Wake Up Call' to global leaders and launches a series of events taking place around the world on September 21.
Participants will form a giant earth moving through an hourglass: the 'Human Countdown'. The event aims to demonstrate that the time to act on climate change is running out. As well as the human sculpture, the event will feature high profile speakers including Kofi Anan. If Treehugger readers want to get involved, they can visit TckTckTck for more details, or turn up at the Woollman Ice Rink in Central Park, NYC at 1pm. There are also over 1,000 events in over 100 countries planned for the 21st, for example, hundreds of people will be gathering in Parliament Square, London to show their support, for more details of activity visit avaaz.

TckTckTck is quite an ambitious initiative with a lot of high profile people involved. What sort of leverage do you see it having in getting world leaders to Copenhagen?

Reaching agreement on a strong deal in Copenhagen is urgent; the impacts of climate change are already being felt around the world. There is still time to build a greener, safer world but the clock is ticking. By mobilizing a massive number of people from a broad range of organizations and a broad cross-section of society calling on Heads of State to take leadership, we are creating the political space for governments to go further than they have been prepared to do before.

What about this will help leaders see this as more than a well organized protest with colorful, but ultimately dismissable people involved?

This isn't a protest. We're looking to have a proactive influence on the decision making process. The size and breadth of the TckTckTck coalition demonstrates that this is something that leaders should listen to. If world leaders see support from their electorate for a fair, ambitious and binding deal at Copenhagen, they will have the space they need to take action. TckTckTck is about mobilizing a massive number of people from a broad cross-section of society and ensuring that world leaders take action in Copenhagen.

In most parts of the world, people and governments take climate change seriously, but perhaps aren't yet organized as to how to address it quickly enough. The US, on many levels, is far behind and has many people, in high levels, denying climate change or placing supposed business interests above the need to actively do something about this. How will the actions of TckTckTck address this?

It's not that governments aren't organized but rather that the issue is not currently being prioritized. TckTckTck is addressing this by mobilizing a broad range of organizations and massive number of people and by demonstrating the support for action on climate change. We are showing that climate change is an issue of critical importance to the public and one that governments can't afford to ignore.

Being such a broad initiative with stakeholders across the globe participating and organizing, how or do you try to have a consistent message and plan of action, or are you leaving it up to these groups to act as they see fit? Or is it something in between?

We are single-minded in our objective: we want world leaders to commit to attending the talks in Copenhagen, where they must sign a deal that is fair, ambitious and binding and that reflects the latest science. Each of our partners has different audiences and will, therefore, undertake different activities but TckTckTck provides us with a common approach, which unites us and demonstrates to governments that we are speaking with one voice. Some activities and communications will come from all partners under TckTckTck, others will be delivered by individual partners or groups of partners but also under TckTckTck.

In your ideal world, what would you like to see happen as a result of the TckTckTck campaign?

We'd like to see support for the TckTckTck campaign continue to grow, to put pressure on global leaders. Ultimately we want world leaders to commit to attending the talks in Copenhagen, where they must sign a deal that is fair, ambitious and binding and that reflects the latest science.

What else can we do, as individuals, businesses, communities to effectively address climate change where we are?

There are hundreds of things people can do at home and at work to address climate change, from turning down thermostats, to using renewable energy, to travelling by train. But most importantly individuals, communities and businesses can sign up to the TckTckTck call to action at and make sure that world leaders know how important it is that a fair, ambitious and binding deal take place in Copenhagen.

Anything else you've not been asked by others that you've been wanting to share with the world?

We feel that the current financial crisis is intimately linked to the climate crisis. By responding positively to the economic crisis through fiscal stimulus packages which create green jobs and put us on a course towards a low carbon development pathway, governments can build a more sustainable and equitable economic system and tackle the climate problem at the same time.

Thanks again, and best of luck on TckTckTck, and your new position at Greenpeace!
It's encouraging to hear such a concerted, well thought out, focused effort being made, with the TckTckTck campaign. And I encourage you to seek out how you can make a difference, in the macro issues like our global climate, but also right in your neighborhood. Sustainability is a multi pronged thing, and there's a lot of room for us all to participate in supporting a healthier, environment for us all.

For More Info on Climate Change:
Climate Change Could Cost Nations 19% of GDP by 2030: New Report
10 Ways Design Can Fight Climate Change
How Climate Change Could Destroy America
Obama to Give First Big Climate Change Speech

TckTckTck Campaign: An Interview with Kumi Naidoo
Photo by Remy Steinegger

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