Executive Director of the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), Mithika Mwenda, has been selected for the prestigious Sierra Club’s Earth Care Award 2019 for his unique contribution to international environmental protection and conservation.
Sierra Club, an environmental organisation based in the United States, presents the Earth Care Award annually to honour individuals or organisations that make unique contribution to international environmental protection and conservation.
Mwenda will be presented with the award for his climate justice activism through PACJA during a ceremony at the Marriott Oakland City Center in Oakland, California on September 14, 2019.
“You were nominated for this award by the Sierra Club’s International Environmental Justice Team in recognition of your work with the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA),” Ellen Davis, the Sierra Club Honours and Awards Committee chair, told Mwenda in a congratulatory message.
Mwenda told Journalists in Bonn, Germany, where he attended a climate change conference, that he was overjoyed by the nomination.
“This is not a singular honour but the recognition of the work by thousands of PACJA members and partners in Africa and elsewhere who have sacrificed all what they have to ensure we reach this level,” he said, adding: “With profound humility, I accept this Award that will no doubt energise my resolve to continue fighting to accord voice to those at the frontline of climate crisis.”
The prestigious award comes only months after Mwenda was named one of the world’s top 100 most influential people on climate policy by Apolitical, a global network for government.
He beat professionals, world leaders, and other climate policy champions from recognised institutions to make it to the top 100 list.
Several notable figures on climate and environment matters have sent Mwenda congratulatory messages.
Ambassador Seyni Nafo, the Spokesperson of the African Group of Negotiators to the UNFCCC, said: “This is so much well deserved and testimony for your commitment and sacrifice for the cause and for Africa. “This does inspire all of us to increase our ambition and resolve for the cause as well as our people, so keep up the good work and flame and continue the fight very high as you have always done it!”
Augustine Njamnshi, the Coordinator of the African Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Access (ACSEA) and who is also PACJA’s co-founder and Director of Political and Technical Affairs, was happy for Mwenda.
His words: “This only confirms that others have been seeing what we have been doing as an organisation, especially what Mithika, as an individual, has been doing for the last couple of years since we created this organisation,” he said, adding: “But let’s say that as an organisation, and even at individual level, we don’t do this work to be recognised but for the sake of the people who are at the forefront of the climate crisis, so that they have space for participation in environmental issues on the continent.”
James Murombedzi, Chief, UNECA Climate Change Unit and Coordinator of the Addis Ababa-based African Climate Policy Centre, was equally happy for Mwenda.
He said: “Mwenda has led PACJA into a movement that has become central to this interface between problem and solution, working at all levels from the community right up to the multilateral global levels to stimulate practical and policy innovations to address the myriad of environmental challenges that threaten the very existence of our planet in the way we know it. The Sierra award represents a very timely recognition of this effort.”
For Prof Seth Osafo, African Group of Negotiators Legal Advisor, it was a moment to reflect on a short past.
“I have known Mithika for quite a few years now and collaborating with him on climate change matters through PACJA, but also through meetings organised by the Economic Commission for Africa,” Osafo submitted.
Tasneem Essop, the Interim Executive Director of the Climate Action Network International, said: “In the period that I have worked with Mithika and known him, he has been extremely dedicated, firstly by putting African voices into these international processes and also strengthening PACJA.
“So when anybody thinks about African civil society, you think about PACJA and you know Mithika has led, it is an award he deserves, and finally recognition given to the long, hard and dedicated work that Mithika and PACJA have put into ensuring that Africa’s voice is heard.”