By Isabel Govier, Assistant Editor and Campaigns Manager of GLOBUS
Over recent years the world has been met with ever-increasing waves of activism, with over a third of all human rights climate cases being filed between 2020 and 2021. At the University of Warwick there are 42 charity and campaigning societies, striving to increase sustainability via direct and indirect forms of activism. With the magnitude of student efforts, the inevitable question of whether they are succeeding in causing positive change is asked. As an activist myself, I was happy to find case studies in both the social and environmental realm that showed evidence of positive outcomes resulting from activism.
The Case of Greenhouse Gas Emissions:
A literature review conducted in 2020 by Fisher and Nasrin found that, despite few empirical studies that assess the direct effect of activists on climate change, case studies have shown promising sustainability responses to activism. Regarding greenhouse gas emissions, studies conducted by Brulle et al (2000) found positive correlations between climate activism and the creation of environmental laws and agencies. Additionally, nations with the highest participation rates in international environmental NGOs have been found to experience a decoupling between economic development and carbon emissions (Fisher and Nasrin, 2020).
The Case of Conversion Therapy in New Zealand:
This year, activist efforts have led to the ban of conversion therapy in New Zealand. The Conversion Therapy Action Group was vocal for years on the importance of passing said legislation, which received 107,00 public submissions; the largest amount of public input into a bill in New Zealand’s history. Notably, the Deputy Minister personally thanked activists for their vital campaigning efforts during the bill reading. This prohibition of conversion therapy, which can be perpetually psychologically and physically damaging, according to a UN expert on protection against violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, is a major win for activists in New Zealand and for the global LGBTQIA+ community.
The Importance of Children and Young People:The explosion of global activism is largely influenced by the participation of children and young people in the efforts. Within a year of beginning her personal activism efforts, 7 million people globally had joined Greta Thunberg in her school strikes for climate change action. Additionally, in 2020, a case calling out the inadequacy of climate policies in 33 European States had the unique trait of being the first ever case submitted by children and young people, to the European Convention of Human Rights. This action shines a hopeful light on the future of activism, as those that will be responsible for sustainability are continuously getting more involved in initiatives to positively change things. With case studies indicating positive legislative and empirical change, we can base ourselves on these successful examples and make our own activism as effective as possible.
A good way to start being an effective activist is to involve yourself locally. If you would like to join a campaign or charity society, here is the link to the SU website, where you can read about the opportunities at Warwick! https://www.warwicksu.com/societies-sports/societies/
Header image by The Climate Reality Project, via unplash