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When Chartered Accountants Save the World

What it’s like being a climate activist in Uganda

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 17 Nov 2021

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The world needs activists to bring the biggest problems into stark relief, argues Evelyn Acham – the more the better.

Evelyn Acham is a vocal climate activist in Uganda, a sub-Saharan country struggling with consequences of the climate crisis that few in the rich world can imagine. “I have seen people lose their homes, their livelihoods because of droughts, because of rising sea levels. I have seen people die of starvation, homes being destroyed and families being destroyed,” she says.

Alongside fellow campaigner Vanessa Nakate, and as part of Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future coalition, she spends a lot of her time in schools educating children about the effects of the climate crisis. Crucially, she says that it wasn’t until 2019 that she realised that the devastation she was witnessing was due to the climate. “I thought this was a normal situation. I thought this was something that was happening in most parts of the world.” It’s clear, she says, that since she wasn’t aware many of the people around her are also not aware.

This lack of awareness also makes her task more difficult. “The reception is sometimes so discouraging because they start mocking you, they start laughing. What you are doing seems to be a western culture thing; it seems to be something for the white people.” She also got arrested earlier this year. 

But none of this discourages her because “the time to act is not tomorrow, it’s not 10 years from now. It must happen now.” Evelyn, like many others round the world, demonstrates the key role that activists play in clearly highlighting the problems our society faces.

It’s then up to politicians, policymakers, businesspeople and professionals to find realistic ways to solve these problems, she argues.