12/01/2013 09:06 am ET | Updated Jan 31, 2014

The Peaceful Warrior: Kumi Naidoo

2013-12-01-photo.JPG"Climate apartheid' is a new term to identifying the human map of suffering and devastation in environmental catastrophes caused by the world's apathy to climate change. The connection between environmentalism and human rights is now a matter of life and death especially for people living in poverty. Greenpeace International executive director Kumi Naidoo asserts, 'Sometimes people say that climate change threatens the planet. Well actually the planet itself will survive. What is at stake is humanity's ability to live on this planet". Fittingly, the South African native and Rhodes scholar Kumi Naidoo began as a fierce human rights activist in the anti-apartheid struggle led by Nelson Mandela. Returning from exile and his education (PHD. Oxford political sociology) after the liberation of South Africa, Kumi lead organizations on poverty, literacy and voter advocacy. (The Helping Hands Youth Organization, secretary-general of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, African National NGO Coalition, World Alliance for Citizen Participation). Three years ago Kumi was on a 21-day hunger strike to protest the South African government's position on Zimbabwe leader Robert Mugabe before being approached to lead Greenpeace the 40-year old organization started by a grassroots environmental youth group.

The Malcolm X credo, "by any means necessary" applies to Kumi's exhaustive work ethic and passion to spread the word globally through social media, conferences (World Economic Forum in Davos, United Nations Climate Conference, Rio Earth Summit) and peaceful civil disobedience. New successful NGO tactics involve dialogue and negotiation about green business practices with powerful multinational corporations (Facebook, Nestle, Coca Cola, Unilever) . "You can't change the science; you must change the politics on climate change" adds Naidoo. Speaking truth to power on the world's climate means penning open letters to world leaders President Obama and President Putin on global environmental change initiatives. At a rally in Copenhagen Kumi called out government rulers, "If you can find not millions, not billions, but trillions of dollars to bail out the banks, the bankers, and their bonuses, how is it that you cannot find the money to bail out the planet, the poor, and our children?"


Having skin in the game, Kumi was arrested and deported for taking part in the Cairn Energy protest part of the "Go Beyond Oil " campaign by scaling an oil rig in defiance of drilling in the melting Arctic ice. These and other bold moves for change have captured the world's attention and inspire environmental activism around the world. Greenpeace supporters are inspired to take action along with the charismatic executive director on the front lines. "Every act of peaceful rebellion adds up" change agent Kumi observes. Kumi Naidoo has come to personify the action for climate change and the hope of a brighter greener future for generations to come. The warrior is here. Now.