A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Answer: Not much. But today Oxfam activists dressed up in Baywatch costumes to deliver a strong message to delegates of the International Maritime Organization meeting.
It’s a typical autumn day in London – bright blue skies overhead, orangey brown leaves littering the pavement and a refreshing chill in the air. It’s certainly not a day when you would wake up and decide to pick out red shorts, a yellow vest top and some flip-flops to wear. But today, 10 brave Oxfam activists woke up early, dressed up as Baywatch life-savers and headed down to the International Maritime Organization building on the River Thames in London, armed with a giant life saving ring.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that governs international standards to regulate the shipping industry, one of the world’s largest polluters. Oxfam chose to target the IMO meeting in London (which is normally quite a low profile affair) to send a clear message to delegates that they should play a critical role in tackling climate change.
International shipping and aviation is an important target for global emissions reductions. There is no doubt that if fair measures were put in place to address emissions produced from shipping, the international community could potentially raise billions of dollars a year for the new UN climate fund. This much-needed new cash from shipping could be used to protect poor people whose lives are at daily risk from the realities of climate change like severe droughts and floods. Indeed, as the yellow vest tops and the life rings asserted: “Climate Change Kills – Shipping can be a life saver”.
The delegates seemed to agree. Many of them were amused by the stunt and delighted to receive their complimentary “Be a lifesaver” logbooks, which outlined Oxfam's detailed policy asks. We may not know how successful our efforts have been until they meet again next year. But our inappropriate clothing choice on a cold autumn day was well worth the effort.
Photos: Andy Aitchison
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