Ayakha Melithafa, a 17-year-old climate justice activist from Khayelitsha has been invited to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland from 19-24 January 2020. There she will represent the youth of South Africa on a number of panels with world-renowned youth climate activist Greta Thunberg.
The Forum brings together stakeholders to help address the greatest ecological crisis of our time and enables leaders to deepen their understanding of complex issues, shape new models and standards and drive scalable, collaborative action for systemic change.
Despite the fact that the World Economic Forum is covering her airfare and hotel accommodation, there are many peripheral costs associated with the trip that Ayakha cannot afford. As a result, a crowdfunding campaign has been launched to cover these extra expenses.
There is not much time – Ayakha leaves for Davos on the 18th of January 2020! We appeal to friends, family, civil society organisations and champions of the climate crisis cause, to ensure that Ayakha is armed with the necessary tools to allow her the best possible experience at Davos, and that she is able to focus on delivering her powerful message to world leaders.
Ayakha is a Grade 12 student at the Centre of Science and Technology in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. She works as a recruitment official and spokesperson for the African Climate Alliance, a youth-led climate advocacy group that organised the #climatestrike protests in Cape Town in collaboration with more than a million youths around the world. She is also a graduate of Project 90 by 2030’s YouLead Initiative.
This fierce young woman has called for an immediate moratorium on the extraction of coal, oil and gas in South Africa and she recently made headlines when she joined Greta Thunberg and other teens from across the world in petitioning the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child to hold five of the world’s leading economic powers accountable for inaction on the climate crisis.
Ayakha will be on a number of panels in Davos with Greta Thunberg, addressing key issues on creating a sustainable, low carbon future. For Ayakha, Davos is an opportunity to bring the voice of South African youth, who will be some of the most affected by climate breakdown, to the global climate crisis discussion. She also hopes to inspire social and climate activism in her community back home; put pressure on big emitters to stop blocking global climate action; exert pressure on South Africa to reduce its own emissions and plan a just transition; and encourage South African leaders and policymakers to lead Africa is pushing the world towards ambitious climate action.
Leaders respond to pressure. The pressure is created by movements, movements are built by thousands of people changing their minds. And sometimes, the best way to change minds is by seeing the world through the eyes of a child. Ayakha Melithafa is such a ‘child’. She approaches the world’s problems with the weight of an elder, and yet she is only 17. She is the first youth representative from South Africa – from Khayelitsha! – to attend the World Economic Forum and it is the first year that this forum has invited a youth contingent to this event.
Since Ayakha is from a poor farming community in the Eastern Cape, she lacks the necessary resources to travel to Davos. Although the World Economic Forum is covering her airfare and hotel accommodation, there are many peripheral costs associated with the trip that are not covered.
Help Ayakha, and the voice of South African youth, get to Davos.
By contributing to her crowdfunding campaign you would assist with:
- Visa fees
- Travel Insurance
- Costs from the Eastern Cape to Cape Town and back and food in Davos itself, and a stipend for the 6 nights she will be in Switzerland.
- A laptop, smartphone and data (she currently struggles with accessing the internet due to no funds for data and does not own a laptop or appropriate phone)
- Some warm clothes for the very cold Switzerland winter
“My name is Natalie Geyser, a climate justice activist and communications specialist at Project 90 by 2030 – a social and environmental justice organisation based in Cape Town. I have been a mentor to Ayakha Melithafa – a youth activist from Khayelitsha – for the past year and in that time, been incredibly inspired by the passion that Ayakha has for her mother, her family, her community and her country in standing up for climate justice. I have recognised her special talent for speaking truth to power, and believe she has a powerful message for world leaders at a time when mankind faces the biggest existential crisis of our time: climate change. I would like to do everything I can to support her on her journey.”