In July 2019, Carola Rackete, former ship captain of Sea-Watch 3, was temporarily arrested on the Italian island of Lampedusa when she took the decision to sail 40 migrants into a port without authorisation. Every year thousands of people drown trying to reach safe harbour in the EU. German non-governmental organisation, Sea-Watch, commissions ships to rescue refugees in the Mediterranean sea. Sea-Watch has so far been involved in the rescue of well over 35,000 people.

Her book, Handeln statt Hoffen, recounts her courageous choice to defy the ban imposed by the Italian Ministry of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, and explains why she is unconditionally committed to humanity, global justice and nature conservation. We have to act urgently to stop increasing global injustice and the climate crisis forcing people to flee their homes.

The English version, The Time To Act Is Now, will be published soon.

©Jakob Schleicher

1. Did becoming internationally well-known overnight encourage you to use your platform to write this book?

I wasn’t planning to write a book before, but in fact I thought it is incredibly important to use my platform to connect my experiences in polar science support, nature conservation and environmental activism with the issues of social justice, anti-racism and practical solidarity. The most important idea of the book is to show how environmental problems are rooted in unequal power structures and the growth based economic system as well as encouraging people to become active and push for change collectively.

2. Why did you title your book Handeln statt Hoffen (‘The Time To Act Is Now’)?

Instead of hoping that someone else like politicians or other activists will solve social and environmental problems without us getting engaged, each of us must become part of the struggle for justice and get active. We will need a huge collective engagement to make changes with the urgency and scale that they are needed. Simply said, we can’t just go into a garden and hope for apples, we have to plant a tree first. Luckily, we can learn so much from social movements before us, we don’t have to start from scratch but can graft our movement trees!

3. What aspect of the climate crisis is putting is the most pressure on people to flee their homes?

I think it is important to ask these questions to people who are experts due to their own experience. The preface of the book is written by Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim who shares her expertise on why people are forced to leave from her home Chad.

4. What would you most like to change about the EU migration policy?

We must end the militarisation of borders and border authorities and support freedom of movement for everyone. One important step would be the abolition of Frontex, see the full list of demands from our network here:

5. What outcomes would you like to see from COP26?

Concrete, binding measures for GHG reductions to be implemented tomorrow instead of dubious long distance targets. Also, reparations and payments of ecological debt to global South countries, financial support for mitigation and adaptation and agreements for climate passports to welcome people forced from their homes.

©Jakob Schleicher

Find Handeln statt Hoffen by Carola Rackete, part of the Droemer Knaur collection, inside the COP26 Virtual Book Showcase until 22nd November 2021.

Buy Handeln statt Hoffen here.

If you are an author, translator or illustrator involved in the COP26 Virtual Book Showcase, and want to get involved, please contact