The environmental problems blighting Durban have made a great impression on Lushendrie Naidu, by showing her the damage that bad practices can have on our surroundings.
In fact they inspired her career as an environmental advocate. “Durban serves as a veritable ‘what not to do’ in many matters of energy conservation and environmental responsibility,” she says.
Naidu became a project officer for the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance and was part of a team that closed down a toxic waste dump in a residential area.
That success fuelled her passion for championing the environment and in 2012 she joined the global climate action organisation 350.org as its regional coordinator.
Naidu and her small team now support grassroots organisations and individuals across Africa by giving them the tools and methods to use in their various campaigns for a healthier planet.
Currently a main focus is the Global Power Shift campaign, which supports activities in priority countries, coaches organisations in those countries in their implementation plan and helps to generate media coverage.
“We are helping these organisations to come up with strategies, campaigns and ideas in climate advocacy, such as sustainable solutions instead of dirty energy, and influencing climate change policy in their countries,” Naidu says.
She recently completed a postgraduate degree in environmental management and says it’s important for her to feel that what she is doing is actually making a difference in the world around her.
“We work with grassroots organisations, but we don’t tell them what to do, we are just a channel that enables their work to move forward. We give people the initiative to start something by allowing their ideas to spark. They are like little seedlings and we are the fertiliser to help turn them into something enormous and magnificent,” she says.
“My goal overall is to see good climate change policies that we can look up to as a country and as a continent and promote sustainable energy solutions.” — Lesley Stones