Juliet Grace Luwedde: A voice of hope

Amidst challenges imposed by global warming, mankind has struggled in its fight to reach an environmental balance that accomplishes both natural protection and economic development. This path to sustainability sparked a series of actions worldwide, in a wave that influenced younger generations and new activists to dedicate themselves in fighting climate change.

One of these activists is Juliet Grace, a young environmentalist born in Uganda that participated at COP 26 and had her voice heard during the event promoted by Brazil Africa Institute (IBRAF). Committed to collaborating in building a more sustainable world for future generations, Juliet began her journey in her teenage years, through a social program in her country called Teens Uganda. Juliet started her participation in 2010, and ever since her history grew into pro-nature actions. 

“For me, when I started out as a young teenager, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was driven by the thrill to make sure that the women in my community had access to nutritious food. My drive was how do I contribute to the wellbeing of these people while feeling good about myself that I have achieved something.” – Juliet Grace

But her work in Uganda was just the beginning of a long journey that lasts until today. Now, as a young adult, and side to side with other environmentalists, Juliet continues to search for solutions that may save our planet. When asked about remarkable moments of her career, she didn’t take long to answer.

“In 2017, I was invited to speak on behalf of the young people while attending the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi, which ran on the theme ‘Towards a Pollution Free Planet’. That moment for me represented a new challenge, inciting me to always push for the voices of my peers and create a platform where they can be heard.” – Juliet Grace

Currently, Juliet works at the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC) and confessed her feeling of being in such a learning experience there. “When I was asked to join AYICC, in my head I thought; ‘Well, this should be a walk in the park.’ Should be easy, but it hasn’t been, because getting young people to come together and collaborate isn’t as simple as we tend to think.”

The activist completes saying that she’s happy about some progress made on calling youth to collaborate with the fight against climate change. “My biggest accomplishment has been seeing partners such as the Ministry of Water and Environment of Uganda, the Climate Action Network Uganda and the United Nations Development Programme, to mention but a few, being open to engagement with young people in the climate activism space, while enabling them to have their views and voices count.”

Talking about saving our planet, Juliet participated as a civil society delegate at COP 26, speaking at an event promoted by the Brazil Africa Institute in the climate conference. She shared some thoughts about expectations concerning the aftermath of the UN climate conference. “This was my first COP and, as you can imagine, I was nervous. I was going to COP 26 so that I could network and pick on a couple of best practices that I can transfer into actions when I went back home.”

She also mentioned her country and how she thinks she could contribute to the climate debate. “In terms of solutions that I bring from Uganda, I would say storytelling. There is a lot of power in telling stories because these move people towards taking the right action. If we all told our stories, from things that work, to things that have been tried, both successes and failures, I am positive that there would be a lot of learning that we can all go away with.” 

Like many nations around the world, Uganda has also been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, and Juliet told how the problem affected her nation and the African continent as well. The activist mentions that, at first, the virus didn’t alarm public authorities, since it was something happening in China; as soon as it started spreading, African leaders became very worried about it. 

When the pandemic hit, back home we thought it was a Chinese problem alone, so we thought ‘why bother?’. This was true until we had the first case pronounced in Uganda, then we went into a panic mood. Again, we were not prepared. I think the biggest realization for our leaders was on rethinking the food systems models that we are currently working with, since they are old and can no longer survive in this [post-pandemic] era.”- Juliet Grace 

So, as many others, Juliet has a voice to be heard. She represents the voice of millions of young adults that are fighting to save our planet, seeking for a guarantee that future generations can exist. Such a guarantee will not be easy to find, but if we are to put expectations somewhere, let it be in our youth.