If you are like most people, the topic of climate change is not something you think about everyday. It was certainly not something that I thought about often. The subject seemed unattainable, incomprehensible and to be dealt with smart people. It was always a conversation where I thought I wasn’t qualified to engage in. What I have come to realize, is that climate change is part of our everyday conversation. We may not deal with the scientific terms or sit at the round table with think-tanks and heads of state, but we do talk about the effects of climate change in our own lives. We talk about the increasingly hot summers, or commiserate over pictures of the latest flood, or disucss the now unpredictable planting seasons. These are stories we share amongst ourselves without realizing they are small chapters in humanity’s tome to the subject.
Since climate change affects all of us, it seems appropriate that we all should have a voice at the decision-making table. All too often though, we only get to hear from the academics, the heads of state, or the violent protestors. Where are the voices of the common man, the single mother, the student? Where are the voices of the villagers in their garden on the outskirts of Marrakech, the shop owner on a busy street in Kigali, the sugar cane grower who can no longer predict the rains in Zambia? How do we determine our collective future if we don’t take time to listen to each other’s stories?
This is where the Connect4Climate  team at the World Bank comes in. We are trying to reframe this critical conversation around a topic into a mutual exchange of listening and sharing. Ahead of the December 2011 United Nations Climate Change conference (COP17) in Durban, South Africa, Connect4Climate was launched with a photo/video competition for African youth, aged 13 to 30, in Bamako by Andrew Steer , Special Envoy for Climate Change at the World Bank.
Connect4Climate aims to be that convener of the global conversation that includes everyone -- from climate scientists to village school girls; from climate change doubters to the green practitioners. This is a platform to register all voices equally. At present, we are placing a special focus on the voices of Africa’s youth. As the youngest continent on the planet, it is imperative that any discussion about the future of Africa, must involve the passionately engaged youth on the continent. The Connect4Climate team is dedicated to making sure that the microphone is extended beyond the podium in Durban and into the classrooms, kitchens, markets, and soccer fields across Africa. The Connect4Climate website will feature a section specifically dedicated to these voices.
Of course we can’t reach all of these people without a dedicated network of committed partners. We are excited to have more than 50 knowledge partners at the launch of this campaign, and with many more to come. Their content and contributions will be aggregated and featured on the Connect4Climate resources section and made available for all to view and share.
If the 5000+ fans that have shown their support on our Facebook  page in less than a month is any indication, this initiative is going to be quite exciting. So, please join the conversation and add your voice to this global cause. You don’t have to be on Facebook to do that we are also listening and engaging with folks on Twitter  . If you are so inclined, you can also write news articles, blog posts, publish your research papers, and upload your photos and videos. What we all can’t afford to do, however, is stay silent. All of your stories matter. We encourage you to engage, listen, and be inspired to act. With the world focused on Durban this December, the C4C team is putting all of its efforts to make sure that this is Africa’s COP.