Lydia Mogano

Environmental Activist

It doesn’t matter whether you believe climate change is being caused by human actions or whether it’s merely a cyclical act of nature. The fact is it’s happening and we need to act, says environmental activist Lydia Mogano.

Mogano (27) is the regional co-ordinator for a faith-based organisation campaigning on behalf of the planet, the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute.

She has powerful academic credentials too, having studied environmental psychology and holding a master’s of arts in the fields of bio-cultural diversity and conservation.

She also works with the We Have Faith campaign, which has an ethical presence at the COP international climate talks. In June, Mogano attended COP 20 inter-sessional climate change discussions in Bonn, Germany, on behalf of those groups. She will also attend the actual COP 20 event in Peru in November.

“When people are affected by climate change it doesn’t matter whether it’s manmade or not, we need to respond,” she says. “People are dying and food security is impacted by hurricanes and floods. It doesn’t matter whether a person is wealthy or poor, religious or not, we need to put our differences aside and help one another.

“Although global interventions are important, if we all act individually I believe our individual responses will make a huge difference.”

Mogano is now working towards her doctorate with the ultimate aim of establishing a research institute in environmental psychology. “We don’t have environmental psychology in Africa and I’d like to pioneer in that field,” she says.

She attends many meetings, often organised by the department of environmental affairs, to define policies relating to climate change. Most focus on nature-based research such as the weather but generally fail to look at the impact on people’s psychological wellbeing and how climate change is affecting the place they call home.

“Our infrastructure also needs to develop to be climate resilient, and environmental psychology can help by bringing in design features that improve people’s lives and productivity.” — Lesley Stones