Istanbul-Turkey, 30th June 2013
The Global Power Shift (GPS) summit was held at the Istanbul Technical University in Turkey from 24th to 30th June 2013. It brought together 500 young climate leaders, 60 volunteers and 40 staff drawn from 134 countries across the world for training, building a global community of climate actors and to launch a new strategy to combat the climate crisis. Turkey is gradually becoming the fastest growing country with regard to use of coal energy. This primarily explains the reason why organizers chose to host the Global power Shift in Turkey.
Kenya, regarded as a very critical player in the fight against climate change in Africa, was represented by a team of 3 ladies and 5 gentlemen. Nelson Opany, the Founder and Programmes Manager of Uwezo Youth Development Programme was among the team. Others included the following:

  1. Emmanuel Dennis-Green Teams Initiative/National Youth Sector Alliance
  2. Valentine Sims-Kenya Youth Climate Network
  3. Caroline Gichobi-Project Survival Media/Sustainable Africa Youth Foundation
  4. Kennedy Liti-African Youth Initiative on Climate Change/Green Bits Initiative
  5. Ruth Nyambura-African Biodiversity Network
  6. Charles Kyeti-Green Bits Initiative/Designer
  7. Prince Papa Omugataya-Contemporary Dance and Theatre Artiste/Freelance Activist

The summit was organized by working together with other partners from around the world. These partners include; TEMA Foundation, Green Peace International, Friends of the Earth International, Global Campaign to Demand Climate Justice and Avaaz among others.

Kicking off on Monday night, 24th June, and closing on the evening of Sunday, 30th June, theGPS event was a combination of large group activities, skills trainings, regional breakouts for strategic planning, panel discussions, participant-led rootscamp workshops, cultural presentations and even a culture night and talent show! It also included participation in a climate action in Istanbul, organized by local allies. It was creative, intense, fun, challenging and amazing!

What is Global Power Shift?

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Global Power Shift is a catalyst for bolder, broader, deeper action to confront the climate crisis and for social justice. GPS envisions a world safe from climate chaos where social justice and community ownership allow people to determine their own future. Unfortunately the fossil fuel industry has governments and economic institutions in their pockets, which results in a continued focus on fossil fuels and limited investments in sustainable alternatives. We need to create the cultural and political conditions that will enable local communities, institutions, and governments to stand up to the fossil fuel industry and take bold action on climate change.

As individuals and communities don’t have financial power, like industries do. Rather, we need to organize and mobilize people to build power. When we organize to change the conditions in our own communities, we take power back for ourselves to determine our own future and force politics to respond.
The summit in Istanbul, Turkey was a chance to come together and prepare for this challenging, yet exciting work ahead. We aren’t trying to build a single strategy, but rather align our diverse strategies across the world, so that our movement is bigger than the sum of its parts. We aim to understand the underlying roots of the climate crisis, to create just and sustainable communities, and to build the skills needed to create the world we want.

The Programme

Over the five days of the summit, participants took part in arrange of activities to help build skills and develop strategies for taking action in after the Summit, build relationships with people from around the world and hear from inspiring speakers. The convergence included the following five elements: plenary sessions, skill track sessions, panel sessions, participant-led rootscamp sessions and regional/country breakout sessions.

During the plenary sessions all the 600 participants came together hearing from speakers from around the world and taking part in activities that help build a shared understanding of the movement. The plenary sessions included: getting to know each other, interactive movement storytelling, global climate change discussions with Christiana Figueres Executive Secretary of UNFCCC and Kumi Naidoo the CEO od Green Peace International and moving forward with Phase 2 among others. Mr. Kumi summed up the fight against climate change with the words of Mahatma Gandhi saying, “First they laugh at you, then they ignore you, then they fight you, then you win!” Christiana on the other hand noted that COP 20 shall be the most important COP ever as it will present a draft agreement ready for adoption by all parties in 2015; and that its success depends on the existence of as many national climate legislations as possible.

There were a total of 11 panel sessions that participants could choose from. Each panel had 4-5 speakers sharing perspectives and experiences on a range of topics. The topics for the sessions included: Climate communications: Messaging our movement, Non Violent Direct Action: How Civil disobedience shapes social movements, Movement Building/Campaigning in politically sensitive countries, Movement of movements, Fight coal and win, Indigenous people’s organizing, Social impacts of climate change, Enacting positive solutions, Sustaining the movement, The economics of climate change, and #Winning: How to use integrated online-to-offline campaigns to create important movement victories.

Each day there was be a period of time dedicated to five particular skills tracks. These are: policy, media and communication, art and creative activism, non violent direct action and digital campaigning. Each member of the team was assigned to follow one of these five tracks for the duration of GPS with the aim of enabling everyone to get in-depth exposure to a particular set of skills to contribute to the national team. Each track also contained trainings that everyone will receive on organizing, general campaign strategy, and building awareness events.

Time was scheduled for the participants to meet in their country or regional teams to work on building concrete strategies and action plans for Phase 2 of Global Power Shift. The various teams had an opportunity to make a visual of their phase 2 plans and share it with others through a gallery walk to see what others are doing, offer feedback and share ideas.
The participant-led RootsCamp sessions were designed to be utilized as workshops for deeper dive discussions. From proposals gathered and voted for by participants prior to the summit and ideas emerging from discussions during the summit, participants created conversations to share skills, knowledge and best practices
On the final day, all participants joined together with over 6,000 Turkish activists in #DirenGezegen Climate March and rally to confront Turkey’s coal industry. After which all participants were treated to a sunset boat ride and party along the Bosphorous Strait.

What Comes After Phase 1 in Istanbul?

Following the GPS Phase 1 in Turkey participants are expected to go back home and team up with friends, allies and other stakeholders to organize summits, events, mobilizations and undertake projects linked to the wider network. This will give them a chance to build on or launch climate campaigns and empower people to lead local action groups that can contribute to and support national or regional climate strategies.
A strong international climate movement is needed now more than ever. For the first time the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii has recorded CO2 concentrations of 400ppm against the 350 ppm that scientist believe is safe. Climate change is here and now, not a distant problem of the future. It is an urgent problem that demands immediate attention. The science is clear-If we pour another 565 gigatones of CO2 in the atmosphere by mid century, we have an 80% chance of remaining below 2oC. If we stay on the current emissions trajectory, we will surpass this threshold in the next 15 years.

Recognizing the diversity of contexts around the globe and the need for the movement to work on several fronts, GPS Phase 2 will focus on the following strategic areas and adapting to national and regional plans as appropriate: (1.) the problem-confronting the fossil fuels industry, (2.) the Impacts-communicating the impacts and urgency of the climate crisis, (3.) the solutions-clean and affordable energy by and for the people and the planet and (4.) the movement-building and sustaining a global climate movement.

Some possible action points in line with the strategic areas above would include: support/solidarity with grass-root communities or other allies fighting fossil fuels infrastructure projects, encouraging divestment in fossil fuels industry, connecting the dots of extreme weather to climate change, promoting actions that support adaptation and increase community resilience, launch efforts to make colleges/universities/hospitals/ workplaces go for renewable energy, push for policies that support clean and affordable energy among others.


We know that no one strategy can work everywhere. We need to adapt our movement to local conditions, priorities, and needs. But ultimately, all these efforts are part of the same movement-part of the same story to overcome and avert climate catastrophe and create a more just and sustainable world. Global Power Shift creates an opportunity for renewed energy with a wider strategic approach to the fight against climate change.

After the meeting in Istanbul we will all return home connected as part of a global community, united in our struggle for freedom from fossil fuels, responding to the realities of climate change, and creating solutions. By remaining connected online, with as one of our tools for sharing and uniting, we will share, learn from, and add strength to one another’s efforts. As we collectively build power, unprecedented change- a true global power shift-will become increasingly possible, or dare we say it, inevitable!Posted 5th July 2013 by UYDP Kenya

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