African festival director in fight against climate change

Zanzibar’s Sauti za Busara festival founder Yusuf Mahmoud is among the many artists campaigning against climate change through an initiative called Music Declares Emergency (MDE), which recently met the European Commission in Brussels.

Sauti za Busara director Yusuf Mahmoud.
MDE is led by a group of industry professionals and music organisations under the slogan ‘No Music on a Dead Planet’. The group is demanding an immediate response from governments to protect all life on Earth.

At the meeting in Brussels, MDE was represented by Fay Milton, Edwin Congreave and Peter Quicke while Alison Tickell led the talks.

“The music industry and musicians are key forces in the fight against the climate emergency,” Tickell said in Brussels. “They can help drive the ambition of the European Green Deal, amplifying the message and demonstrating their commitment through real, quantifiable changes in business practices to act as a beacon to other sectors.”

The organisation is calling for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 as well as the speeding up of industry action and awareness toward environmental sustainability.

Mahmoud, who is also on the Music In Africa Foundation’s board, says the music industry is not only about entertainment.

“Sauti za Busara festival recognises the vital role artists play in society, as spokespeople, storytellers, visionaries, activists and healers,” he said. “Music is a universal language that communicates on many levels. We give priority to original musicians demonstrating quality, innovation, energy, excitement and positive messages for society.

“Musicians often find themselves on the frontline, in speaking out against injustice and standing up for human rights. Our festival provides a perfect platform for such musicians and amplifies their contributions to the community.

“One festival alone cannot completely change society. However, we join hands with like-minded partners, to promote dialogue, change attitudes and encourage responsible behaviour for the wider benefit of all.”

In 2019, MDE received the Independent Music Companies Association (IMPALA) Outstanding Contribution Award. IMPALA was established in April 2000 to represent independent music companies. The organisation’s mission is to grow and support the indie sector.

Meanwhile, Digital Music News reported that the goal of achieving zero-net emissions by 2050 is largely an unrealistic one. More than 60 countries have vowed to lower carbon emissions by 2050 but they are not the biggest emitters, with the 60 only accounting for 11% of global emissions.

The US, China and India are the biggest emitters. The US under President Donald Trump is not prioritising climate change while China and India have done little to curb emissions.

Text courtesy

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