"We brought millions and millions of people onto the streets": David Wicker (Italy, UWCD'23) about the Global Climate Strike movement
  • Stories of Students

David is our DP1 student from Italy. David is one of the organisers of Fridays for Future - a youth-led global climate strike movement that started in August 2018. Together with other activists David organised six global strikes, bringing millions of people onto the streets of even the remotest places of Earth. In September a climate strike took place at UWC Dilijan. Read his story below.

Over two years ago, I joined a small group of people who decided to skip school, work or other appointments to gather into a plaza in Turin and talk with people about "climate change".

At the time, I wasn't aware of the implications of climate change. Sure, I had done my research, I knew approximately what the issue was, but I wasn't aware of the scale of the problem.

Every week we would meet on Friday, as other groups started doing across Italy and the world.
We came up with a challenge: "bring your friend next Friday."
The second week of strikes, we went from 3 to 10. Then from 10 to 20. Then 50. Then a hundred.

The week before the first "Global Strike", we were 250 people, striking every week - a global strike is what we called the day on which every single Friday for Future group on Earth would attempt to bring people onto the streets.
On 13th March, I travelled to Strasbourg to meet with other "core" organizers and activists from many different European countries. It was a weird experience meeting people I knew from months and months of Zoom meetings, but I had never actually met in person.

Then 15th March 2019 happened. Millions of people marching for climate on the streets of the world. In my city, Turin, we had prepared for two thousand people; little did we know thirty thousand would join. 

The media went crazy. Government officials and representatives wanted to hear our opinion.
We had made it.
We had beaten the climate crisis.
Or so I thought we did. I was fourteen at the time. Don't blame me.

Not long after that glorious day, everything we had "accomplished" was slowly but surely vanishing. Institutions didn't care enough to implement their words into actions; the media stopped talking about climate; people started to forget.

But we didn't give up. We organized five other "Global Strikes" - the biggest of all being the one on the 27th September 2019 - placed strategically near-critical international conferences such as COP, and we brought millions and millions of people onto the streets of even the remotest places of Earth - even Antarctica. If you look at the popularity of the term "climate change" on Google Trends, you can clearly see significant peaks on the days of the global strikes.

I have given so much to the movement, and the movement has given so much to me. We've organized actions and protests at the European Parliament in Bruxelles. Once, we rented a train and brought activists from all over Europe together to Aachen for an international cross-border strike. We've even organized international "Fridays For Future Summits", in which we would bring together key activists from a ton of countries to discuss our core values and objectives as a movement - You can look up the SMILE Summit in Lausanne.

We organized so many actions and protests in a window of time that would seem fairly short to an adult, but for me seemed like an entire lifetime in which I have grown as a person.

At the beginning of the COVID pandemic, I remember how cable news networks were cheering the "positive environmental impacts" of the pandemic itself because of how the industry and its correlated pollution had suddenly halted or drastically decreased.

I would cringe at that "news". Because of COVID, the climate dropped to the bottom of the agenda. Two entire years with close to no climate action at all. Two years of postponed climate summits and international talks.

If there's anything that the pandemic has taught us, we have never treated the climate crisis as a real crisis.

Last Friday, we held the first Global Strike after the pandemic began. We didn't reach the numbers we once used to, but we did not lose one ounce of energy and motivation. Yet again, hundreds of thousands if not millions of people marched worldwide, asking to treat the climate emergency with the urgency it requires.

I am now living in Armenia, so I couldn't help in the organization of the march in my home city - Turin - but I decided to bring Fridays for Future to UWC Dilijan and to bring UWCD students into the movement.

I soon discovered I wasn't the only "climate activist" here; so many more students shared the same passion that I had, and in little time we organized a gathering with the help of everyone. That was our small, very last-minute way of joining the Global Strike from UWCD. We drew up banners, signs and reached out to other UWC colleges to encourage them to do the same.

After all, we are all on the same boat.

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