Cover Image: Leaders in eco-justice, Earthlife Africa’s Makoma Lekalakala and The Green Connection’s Liziwe McDaid, continue to encourage South Africans to defend their environmental rights.

In September 2021, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg Director Makoma Lekalakala joined The Green Connection’s Legacy Programme graduation to celebrate young eco-defenders. Lekalakala – who, together with The Green Connection’s Liziwe McDaid, won the 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize for mobilising South Africans to stop the unlawful R1-trillion nuclear deal – says that she is happy to hear that these recently graduated Green Connectors now feel equipped for the polls and ready to weigh-in on COP26 “because our environment urgently needs more defenders.”

“Our purpose is to make life enjoyable, and we must challenge anything that threatens to take the joy from our lives. This means that, as human and environmental rights defenders, you must challenge unjust decisions. Do not be afraid to be different because being different means that you are not indifferent. And expect to ruffle a few feathers for going against the grain,” she told community activists.

“Do not say or think ‘I am too small to make a change’ because believe me, you can make a difference. Even a small seed can grow into a massive tree. Do not give up the fight. I want to encourage these Green Connectors to draw strength from each other and from the networks they have created through this process. I hope that each one commits to making a positive change and building a better future, together.”

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