Message from CAN’s New Director: Fulfilling our generational responsibility

11 April 2012


When I applied to the CAN-International Director position, some colleagues from the climate and environmental movements wondered why I would be interested in working for the leading climate change network, CAN, at this point of time. After the Copenhagen summit fiasco, political will to tackle climate change has been declining, donor funding for the issue has been reduced, and even many international NGOs are shifting their focus to other campaigns.  Becoming the Director of CAN is now similar to becoming the CEO of a big dot-com company directly after the dot-com bubble burst. This is what management schools teach executives is a risky, if not crazy, career move.

Nevertheless, although political will and public interest can change, scientific reality does not. The fact is that if we do not peak carbon emissions very soon, life on the planet will be at great risk. The coming 10 years can determine the fate of civilization, and my generation carries the burden of ensuring that future generations continue to have a future. If we lose the fight, future generations will not blame a specific government or community, they will blame our whole generation. The failure will be the failure of all of us.

The current endless climate change debate between governments trying to dump responsibilities on each other reminds me of the Lebanese civil war. The civil war in Lebanon started in 1975, and I was born there in 1976. I spent the first 16 years of my life trying to survive the war, before it ended in 1991. During these 16 years we heard all kinds of arguments from the different political factions fighting each other on why they were right. Eventually, my generation did not really care who was right and who was wrong, and we currently blame all of those involved in the war for ruining our childhood and sending our country back 50 years.

Therefore, my whole generation should, in one way or another, play a role in the fight against climate change; and as an environmental activist, taking the opportunity to be the CAN Director is part of my generational responsibility. CAN is at the heart of the climate change fight, and now being its new Director is both a privilege and a challenge that I will do my best to be up to.

I hope that in my new role I would be able to convince every activist, executive, and decision maker to fulfill their generation responsibility and add fighting climate change to whatever objectives they have.

Wael Hmaidan, Director


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