Kenya: Catholic youth drive climate action across Africa

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Kenyan activist Allen Ottaro has been inspired by his faith to mobilise a generation of conservationists.

By Wesley Langat

For Allen Ottaro, caring for the environment is part of his “calling to serve God”.

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The 35-year-old activist from Nakuru, Kenya, has become a leading advocate for climate action across the continent, by mobilising Catholic youth.

From small beginnings in 2011, with 15 like-minded friends who met after church services, he established the Catholic youth network for environmental sustainability in Africa (Cynesa) to spread the word.

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“I discovered that youths in our church are an untapped resource and can be engaged in conservation activities,” he told Climate Home News.

Sub-Saharan Africa has one of the most youthful populations in the world, with more than 200 million people aged 15-24 and rising. This youth bulge brings environmental challenges, increasing demand for natural resources at the same time as climate change puts a strain on ecosystems.

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They are also a force for positive change, Joyce Msuya, deputy executive director at UN Environment, emphasised at a conference organised by the Vatican in July.

“We are deeply committed to working with youth, as well as with faith leaders and faith-based organizations from around the world, to achieve the goals set out in the 2030 agenda for sustainable development,” she said.

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Since establishing Cynesa, Ottaro has worked with parishes, schools and other groups to address climate change and other environmental issues. In his home diocese of Nakuru, the youth have planted 8,000 trees.

The network has spread like wildfire across Africa and now registers members from more than 10 countries, including Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda and South Africa.

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In Tanzania, for example, 500 young people turn out to clean the beaches of Dar es Salaam every three months.

“Convincing church leaders to give this a priority isn’t easy but this has to change,” Ottaro said.

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Mercy Munene, a student at United States International University Africa (USIU), is a volunteer with Cynesa who has taken part in environmental activities and received mentoring.

“The opportunity awakens my consciousness and now I’m very sensitive to environmental issues,” she said. The opportunity has inspired her to teach others about Christianity’s message of care for creation.

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Alphonse Rugigana, with training and guidance from Cynesa, organises environmental activities like tree planting and clean up exercises in various parishes in Rwanda.

The Archdiocese of Kigali has planted 500 tree seedlings, with the help of four primary schools, and works with five universities on environmental education for 300 students.

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“I’m so happy today, our work is much easier with the help of the church because it’s a credible organization,” said Rugigana. “We mentored a generation of environmentally conscious youngsters to bring a positive action to promote environmental conservation.”

Four years after Pope Francis issued a letter to the faithful, Laudato Si, calling on them to take action on climate change, a conference in Nairobi hammered the message home.

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“Our continent is particularly vulnerable to the climate and biodiversity crises… the ‘cry of the climate’ is already proving devastating to many African countries” said leading church official Bruno Duffè. “I am encouraged about the participation of young Catholics in these mobilizations given the urgency of the situation.”

This article was produced as part of an African reporting programme supported by Future Climate for Africa.

3 Ways Young People Can Come Together To Fight Climate Change

By Web.unep.org (Shakir Akorede)

According to the United Nations, “Climate change is one of the major challenges of our time and adds considerable stress to our societies and to the environment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.”

It is mind-boggling that the effects of climate change are already manifesting across all borders of the world and across the oceans. Despite the efforts and agreements, however, experts argue that world leaders are not adequately prepared for the risks from a changing climate and, at the same time, are not doing enough to tackle the global disaster.

True or false, climate change is now affecting every country on every continent of the world. Its palpable effects are disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow.

Given the environmental threat, there’s more work to be done especially for the young generation if the world is truly important to them. This article highlights 3 strategic ways youths across the world can help protect their home – the world.

1. Go green.

Environmental protection requires innovative approaches such that the young generation must be empowered with the right skills to address environmental challenges and beyond.

What is green?

Green means different things to different people from different perspectives. In the environmental context, it is making the world a more livable place for all that lives therein. According to MobilizeGreen, “Green” has become synonymous with the environment, sustainability, and “eco-friendliness.”

From the above, going green is “ensuring a greener environment.” But there’s more to that in terms of realisation. To explain, young people from diverse ethnicities and backgrounds need to pursue more knowledge and practices that can lead to secured environment and sustainable natural resources for present and future generations by increasing their environmental friendliness and taking ecologically responsible decisions.

Parts of the decisions, which entail green practices, include: walking, riding bikes, using public transportation, recycling outside the box, and many others.

2. Collaborate with others (to form organizations).

For quick global effects, young people must continue to take part in intergovernmental climate change processes across the globe. “The role of the private sector in combating climate change is becoming ever more relevant,” says Climate Home.

To this end, more collaborative efforts are crucial to tackling climate change by spreading its awareness among the populace and working closely with governments to ensure policy implementations.

3. Partner with government.

“The United Nations System recognizes the key role that youth play in tackling climate change and works closely with youth-led and youth-focussed organizations around the world through the United Nations Joint Framework Initiative on Children, Youth and Climate Change (Joint Framework Initiative),” says the U.N.

There’s no denying that robust public-private partnership is an efficient way to tackle environmental challenges. As such, youth organizations should partner local, national, and international governments for more frantic efforts to curtail environmental disasters.

Climate Change: The time for talking is over: a call to action on climate change and planetary health

“Leaders need to realise that it is in their own interests, and those of their countries, to have a healthy population and a society with institutions and infrastructure that is sufficiently resilient in the face of climate change.”

By Theelders.org (Mary Robinson)

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to be with you here today at this impressive Summit. I am honoured to have the opportunity to talk about two topics that are close to my heart and deeply interlinked: climate change and planetary health.

Both issues constitute existential threats if they are not addressed rigorously and urgently; but equally, they open up the possibility of new opportunities for future growth and prosperity if a systematic and inclusive policy approach is developed by states, businesses and ordinary citizens.

It might sound ironic to say this at the beginning of a keynote speech, but I firmly believe that the time for talking is over.

We need to act – now, and fast.

As I am sure you all know, last month the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report on the consequences of global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius and above.

This report makes it abundantly clear that we only have 12 years to take the necessary, radical action to cut emissions, end the consumption and subsidising of fossil fuels, and invest in sustainable, renewable energy to avert a rise in global temperatures above 1.5 degrees that would have catastrophic consequences for global health.

As my friend and fellow Elder Gro Brundtland said, the IPCC report is not a wake-up call, it is a ticking time-bomb.

The World Health Organization already predicts that between 2030 and 2050, climate change will cause approximately 250,000 additional deaths per year, from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea and heat stress.

The direct costs to health from climate change, excluding costs in health-determining sectors such as agriculture and water and sanitation, is estimated to be between US$2–4 billion per year by 2030.

Climate change threatens the huge amount of progress made on health and development in the past half century; it threatens to reverse the gains made through the Millennium Development Goals; and it threatens to undermine any efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – health related or otherwise.

The IPCC has also said it expects climate change to lead to increases in ill health in many regions, particularly those furthest away from the health sustainable development goal.

Examples include greater likelihood of injury, disease, and death due to more intense heat waves and fires; increased likelihood of under-nutrition resulting from diminished food production in poor regions; risks from lost work capacity and reduced labour productivity in vulnerable populations; and increased risks from food- and water-borne diseases.

What the latest report by the IPCC makes crystal clear is that the threats posed by a rise in temperatures above 1.5 degrees apply to every country in the world regardless of income level, and demand a concerted, joined-up global approach.

For example: I don’t need to remind anyone in Qatar about the health risks of extreme heat – but had I been giving this lecture a year ago in northern Sweden, at this point the audience would probably have smiled and said “that’s all very well, but it’s not really a problem for us up here!”

If I were giving it there today though, I can assure you they would be nodding in sober agreement. This past summer we saw the almost unbelievable spectacle of wildfires in Sweden’s Arctic Circle, as well as many other parts of Europe.

These heatwaves represent the new normal. They are more extreme, last longer and reach further because of climate change.

And they are not just isolated incidents. The long-term trend shows more and more people are being exposed to heatwaves as the earth’s climate changes.

In 2016, over 150 million people were exposed to life-threatening heatwave conditions, and the threat is particularly acute for the young, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor.

Meeting this challenge will require the political will to commit substantial financial investment to climate-resilient health infrastructure.

It means embedding climate change mitigation, reaction and adaptation into long-term health planning, and ensuring environmental and economic policies are centred around health needs.

Hospitals and other health institutions need to consider this in practical, tangible terms: how do their buildings and operations contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, are their consumption models efficient and sustainable, how do they dispose of medical waste, and do they have a holistic approach that includes the needs of the wider community?

On a policy level, for the past three years The Elders have been championing Universal Health Coverage across the globe as the best way to meet the health SDG and provide accessible, affordable healthcare to all.

We are convinced that providing universal health coverage is one of the most important drivers of development, and a crucial means of tackling the health impacts of climate change.

And there is a crucial linkage between ending fossil fuel subsidies, improving health outcomes and building political consensus behind climate-resilient policies.

Subsidies to fossil fuel industries are clearly unacceptable and unsustainable, and The Elders have written on several occasions to the leaders of G20 and G7 countries to hold them to their word and demand a comprehensive abolition of these measures.

But consumer subsidies, for example on fuel products, are popular with the general population, particularly in developing countries, and leaders face considerable political challenges when seeking to reduce or end them.

However, countries such as Iran and Indonesia have shown that it is possible to reduce these subsidies when some of the saved public resources are channelled directly to increased spending on healthcare.

The public sees the immediate benefit as well as the longer-term advantages of a healthier environment, and leaders should then enjoy a broader mandate to pursue sustainable environmental, social and health policies.

But our responses cannot be driven solely by political expediency or enlightened self-interest.

I believe it is essential that we look at both climate change and healthcare through the prism of human rights, to which every person on Earth is entitled.

In this hall I see many talented medical professionals, representing world-class hospitals and research institutes, with an almost unparalleled capacity for technological innovation.

Yet given this abundance of global resources, how can it possibly be acceptable that hundreds of millions of our global citizens still cannot access or afford the healthcare they need for themselves and their families – including in some of the richest countries on the planet, including the United States?

Innovation in technology, surgical techniques and health systems has brought huge benefits to healthcare in recent decades and transformed our understanding of how the human body and mind works.

But innovation alone will not achieve the systemic changes needed to extend these benefits to the most vulnerable and marginalised people in our societies whose health needs are greatest.

Ultimately, this comes down to a question of political will and priorities. As with climate change, leaders need to realise that it is in their own interests, and those of their countries, to have a healthy population and a society with institutions and infrastructure that is sufficiently resilient in the face of climate change.

In both cases, the state remains the indispensable actor – and must therefore bear the chief responsibility for funding healthcare and climate policies.

These responsibilities cannot be abdicated or outsourced to the private sector.

You only have to look at the United States to see the damaging consequences of a market-driven health system where the profit motive trumps patients’ healthcare needs, and where vested interests from private hospitals to the pharmaceutical industry spend billions of dollars to thwart even modest efforts to extend public insurance and healthcare provision.

Equally, although it is commendable that many businesses, including in the energy sector, are now acknowledging the realities of climate change and the need to take action, “corporate social responsibility” can only ever be a complement to rigorous state regulation, underpinned by internationally-agreed commitments.

In our globalised world, this can only be done by multilateral cooperation.

The Paris Agreement on climate change, and the Sustainable Development Goals, are two landmark multilateral achievements that serve as a rebuke to the cynics or so-called realpolitik advocates who argue that nations will never act out of altruism.

Both the Paris agreement and the SDGs are a declaration of solidarity not only with today’s global citizens but future generations.

They offer a roadmap for genuine, transformative progress – but only if leaders are serious about their implementation, and show sustained ambition and commitment to the multilateral process.

The notion that the globalised nature of our economic and political order can in some way be halted or reversed is, frankly, illiterate.

Leaders who pursue a unilateral path, who disdain cooperation and who renege on previously-agreed commitments, need to go back to their history books.

I have in fact just come from Paris, where President Macron organised a major Peace Forum to mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

This historical anniversary is a stark reminder of the catastrophe that can ensue when multilateral cooperation breaks down and leaders believe their interests can be best served by bellicose actions.

The war in Europe devastated a whole generation. It literally poisoned the land; some of the soil where the trenches lay is still contaminated by degraded munitions and poison gas.

Moreover, the devastating impact of the conflict on public health and medical institutions and infrastructure meant that when an epidemic of Spanish influenza broke out in the winter of 1918, just as the guns were falling silent, it spread like wildfire and ended up killing as many people as the war itself.

So all of us here – doctors, health experts, politicians and former politicians – have a responsibility to put pressure on leaders to take climate and health seriously, to see them as human rights issues that are inextricably intertwined, and to make these leaders understand that if they do not act in concert with each other, they are damning us all to failure, if not annihilation

As some of you will know, for many years I have advocated the need for a “climate justice” approach to tackling the challenges of global warming.

Climate justice is a transformative concept – compelling a shift from a discourse on greenhouse gases and melting icecaps into a civil rights movement with the people and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts at its heart.

Climate justice links human rights and development to achieve a human-centred approach, safeguarding the rights of the most vulnerable people and sharing the burdens and benefits of climate change and its impacts equitably and fairly.

I believe we also need to think about “health justice”, to ensure that ordinary people are always at the heart of health policy and that their needs are paramount above the profit motives of industry or the short-term calculations of politicians.

It is clearly a grave health injustice when poor women and their newborn babies are detained in hospitals because their families can’t afford their medical bills. But this is the reality for thousands of people in health systems dominated by private financing and weak governance.

Both climate and health policies need to understand the specific needs of vulnerable and marginalised groups who have been too often overlooked, including women, girls, adolescents, people with mental health issues, indigenous peoples, sexual minorities and nomadic communities.

They also need to understand the intersectionality of these diverse groups and needs. Injustice cannot be overcome if each issue is treated in its own individual silo, or without appreciating the complex interconnections between the different drivers of ill-health, poverty, prejudice and discrimination.

I have endeavoured to spend my life in the service of those marginalised or made vulnerable by discrimination because of gender, race or poverty.

I take as my guide Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – that essential text whose 70th anniversary we are marking this year — which begins “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”.

It is important to note, however, that the Declaration, signed in 1948, and the two International Human Rights Covenants, adopted in 1966, do not include any reference to a right to a healthy environment.

When I had the honour to serve as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 1997 to 2002, climate change was not on the radar of human rights institutions. It was through my later work on human rights in Africa that I came to understand that any advances in development were threatened by the impacts of climate change.

Last year, together with my fellow Elder and sister Graça Machel, I visited Tanzaniato encourage that country’s progress towards Universal Health Coverage.

We met rural women who still only had scant access to medical services and products despite the dedicated efforts of local doctors. If real and enduring progress is to be made towards UHC in Tanzania, the needs of these women needs to be at the top of the agenda for every official in the Ministry of Health – and, indeed, the Ministry of Finance and the Prime Minister’s office.

Governments and companies need legitimacy and trust to be able to operate effectively in society. This applies to the Middle East as much as rural Africa, and indeed to the whole world. If these actors do not prioritise action on climate and health, they risk forfeiting this legitimacy and trust far sooner than any of us might anticipate.

But delivering effective policies on climate and health is not just a matter of sound investment or shrewd self-interest. It is a matter of human rights and justice. The economies and companies that have contributed most to global warming and unequal health outcomes have a responsibility to lead on finding solutions.

In surveying the complex array of global challenges, the devastating consequences of inaction and the often mediocre response by public leadership, it is easy to fall into despondency.

In the words of the great Irish poet WB Yeats, it can feel at times like “the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

But despair is not an option! We cannot afford it, and our children and grandchildren will not forgive us if we do not step up and do what is right.

I remain inspired and invigorated by words of two great men with whom I have had the honour to work with as members of The Elders: Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the late Kofi Annan.

Archbishop Tutu – or Arch, as he always told us to call him – defines himself as a “prisoner of hope”, a phrase which resonates deeply with me and inspires me to remain determined to fight for change.

And Kofi Annan always called himself a “stubborn optimist”. His life-long commitment to justice and equality did not permit any other way of looking at the world. Kofi knew that a better world was possible, and worked to the very end to make it happen.

As we go forward today, let us all take heart from their legacies and work together for a world where everyone enjoys the right to health, a thriving environment and a peaceful planet to bequeath to subsequent generations.

Thank you.

Southern Africa youth resolve to address climate change and gender-based violence

By Felix Samari, LWF ALCINET

LUCSA youth discuss LWF’s priorities for youth

(LWI) – Youth from 15 member churches of the Lutheran Communion in Southern Africa (LUCSA) have identified climate change and gender-based violence (GBV) as key issues to address in their respective countries.

Meeting mid-April, in Johannesburg, South Africa, barely a month after the devastating impact of cyclone Idai in Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe, they resolved to set up a sub-regional network to encourage youth participation in activities that promote care for the creation and environmental protection. Prolonged drought and shorter but intense periods of rainfall in the sub-region threaten the livelihoods of rural populations, who mainly depend on subsistence farming and herding livestock.

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Strategy 2019-2024 provided orientation for the workshop under the theme, “With Passion for the Church and the World”. LUCSA is one of the three LWF sub-regions in Africa.

LWF Council member Khulekani Sizwe Magwaza, from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa, who coordinated the workshop said it was important to hear from LUCSA youth how they perceived the Lutheran communion’s priorities for young people in their own contexts.

This just reminds us again why we have to continue advocating for climate justice. The weather patterns have changed and often authorities are not prepared to cope with the aftermath and help their people.— LWF Council member Khulekani Sizwe Magwaza, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Southern Africa

Magwaza noted that barely a fortnight after the workshop, another tropical storm struck South Africa’s eastern coastline around Durban between 22-23 April, killing more than 50 people, with flooding and mudslides destroying homes and property. “This just reminds us again why we have to continue advocating for climate justice. The weather patterns have changed and often authorities are not prepared to cope with the aftermath and help their people,” he added.

Participants in the workshop included Rev. Zelda Cristina Cossa from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Mozambique, who reflected about cyclone Idai and recurring torrential rainfall in the country. “These tropical storms provide grim proof that global warming is a real and continuing threat. Effective adaptation to minimize damage is essential in preparing people in the region. Disaster risk management plans are especially important in order to minimize loss of life,” added, Cossa, a pastor in Lionde congregation in the eastern district of Chokwe.

At the LWF Twelfth Assembly in 2017, the member churches reiterated youth participation and leadership as priority themes for the communion. The LWF strategy acknowledges the critical role of youth leadership in strengthening LWF’s commitment to addressing climate change as a matter of intergenerational justice.

The rights of women and girls

The LUCSA youth also cited examples of increasing incidents of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) especially in families in countries such as Namibia and South Africa, and the general lack of commitment by authorities to hold perpetrators to account. They noted SGBV is a gross violation of the rights of women and girls, and “we are committed to tackling it in all its forms as best as we are able.”

Magwaza encouraged the workshop participants to improve their life skills and develop positive behavioral changes in order to better serve the church and the wider society.

“It is about young people developing personal values and qualities which enable them to effectively play a key role in the church’s growth and sustainability and in society’s social development agenda,” they said in a final statement.

LUCSA brings together 15 Lutheran churches in the sub-region, 13 of which belong to the LWF.

Edited by LWF Communications

Source TLWF

3 Ways Young People Can Come Together To Fight Climate Change

By Shakir Akorede

With the climaxing threats, climate change is putting the future of the world in evident disasters. Should owners of the future sit back?

According to the United Nations, “Climate change is one of the major challenges of our time and adds considerable stress to our societies and to the environment. From shifting weather patterns that threaten food production, to rising sea levels that increase the risk of catastrophic flooding, the impacts of climate change are global in scope and unprecedented in scale. Without drastic action today, adapting to these impacts in the future will be more difficult and costly.”

It is mind-boggling that the effects of climate change are already manifesting across all borders of the world and across the oceans. Despite the efforts and agreements, however, experts argue that world leaders are not adequately prepared for the risks from a changing climate and, at the same time, are not doing enough to tackle the global disaster.

True or false, climate change is now affecting every country on every continent of the world. Its palpable effects are disrupting national economies and affecting lives, costing people, communities and countries dearly today and even more tomorrow.

Given the environmental threat, there’s more work to be done especially for the young generation if the world is truly important to them. This article highlights 3 strategic ways youths across the world can help protect their home – the world.

1. Go green.

Environmental protection requires innovative approaches such that the young generation must be empowered with the right skills to address environmental challenges and beyond.

What is green?

Green means different things to different people from different perspectives. In the environmental context, it is making the world a more livable place for all that lives therein. According to MobilizeGreen, “Green” has become synonymous with the environment, sustainability, and “eco-friendliness.”

From the above, going green is “ensuring a greener environment.” But there’s more to that in terms of realisation. To explain, young people from diverse ethnicities and backgrounds need to pursue more knowledge and practices that can lead to secured environment and sustainable natural resources for present and future generations by increasing their environmental friendliness and taking ecologically responsible decisions.

Parts of the decisions, which entail green practices, include: walking, riding bikes, using public transportation, recycling outside the box, and many others.

2. Collaborate with others (to form organizations).

For quick global effects, young people must continue to take part in intergovernmental climate change processes across the globe. “The role of the private sector in combating climate change is becoming ever more relevant,” says Climate Home.

To this end, more collaborative efforts are crucial to tackling climate change by spreading its awareness among the populace and working closely with governments to ensure policy implementations.

3. Partner with government.

“The United Nations System recognizes the key role that youth play in tackling climate change and works closely with youth-led and youth-focussed organizations around the world through the United Nations Joint Framework Initiative on Children, Youth and Climate Change (Joint Framework Initiative),” says the U.N.

There’s no denying that robust public-private partnership is an efficient way to tackle environmental challenges. As such, youth organizations should partner local, national, and international governments for more frantic efforts to curtail environmental disasters.

Source The Huffpost

Youths must see climate change as an opportunity

By Seyifunmi Adebote Accra

Director of Climate Change, Federal Ministry of Environment Dr Pete Tarfa has urged youths to see climate change as an opportunity for growth and national economic advancement.

Tarfa made the call at the Accra International Conference Centre in Ghana, when he met some Nigerian youths’ delegates attending the ongoing International Climate Change Development Initiative (ICCDI) in commemoration of the Africa Climate Week. The theme was: ‘Africa climate week is a race we can win’.

Six youth delegates from Nigeria attended the event. They are: Babatunde Enitan, Abiodun Adekoya, Rukayat Odebiyi, Moses Eboigbe, Prosper Egeonu and ‘Seyifunmi Adebote.

“One thing I want Nigerian youths working in the area of climate change to do is to open their eyes to the many opportunities that surround climate change,” Tarfa began.

He continued, “Before now, we used to see climate change as a tragedy, a woe, and something to be scared about. Today, there are a lot of opportunities that climate change has brought.

“As young people, you should begin to see how you can create jobs from climate change – in the area of renewable energy, solid waste management, writing, advocacy, creative expressions like literature, poem or music, just to push out the message of climate change.

“One major problem we have in Nigeria is deforestation, most women in the local communities cook with firewood and some of them are dying because of the effects of smoke on their health. Young people can partner private companies, creating innovative clean cook stove solution. Those products can be sold to the huge market in Nigeria. That way, you make money and impact lives. I want to see Nigerian youths who have understood climate change to look out for opportunities in the areas renewable sources of energy to provide power for the millions of people off-grid. Waste management is another big issue in Nigeria, single-use plastic recycling, architecture and many other aspects.”

Source The Nation

Obama hails youth climate protests

Former US president Barack Obama, visiting Berlin on Saturday, hailed weekly protests by youths against climate change, saying “the sooner you start, the better.”

The Friday protests involve schoolchildren and teens and have been inspired by Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg.

“Many of these people can’t vote, they are too young to vote yet, but they know what’s going on,” Obama said during a meeting with youths in Berlin.

“You wouldn’t let your grandparents decide what music you listen to, or what clothes you wear. Why let them decide what world you will live in,” he said.

“Things change when we strongly mobilise,” he said. “Our planet on which we live is in danger. We can’t succeed by sitting back and waiting for someone else to do it”.

Obama, who left the White House in 2017 after two terms, was in Germany to promote his foundation.

He signed the Paris climate accord in 2015 which calls for capping global warming at “well below” two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) but the planet is currently on track to heat up by double that figure.

His successor Donald Trump decided in June last year to exit the accord.

Source Pulse Kenya

Nigeria: ‘Youths must see climate change as an opportunity’

By Seyifunmi Adebote

Director of Climate Change, Federal Ministry of Environment, Dr Pete Tarfa, has urged Nigerian youths to see climate change as an opportunity for individual growth and national economic advancement.

Tarfa made this call last week at the Accra International Conference Center in Ghana, when he met some Nigerian youths’ delegates attending the ongoing International Climate Change Development Initiative (ICCDI) in commemoration of the Africa Climate Week. The theme was: ‘Africa climate week is a race we can win’.

Six youth delegates from Nigeria attended the event. They are: Babatunde Enitan, Abiodun Adekoya, Rukayat Odebiyi, Moses Eboigbe, Prosper Egeonu and ‘Seyifunmi Adebote.

“One thing I want Nigerian youths working in the area of climate change to do is to open their eyes to the many opportunities that surround climate change,” Tarfa began.

He continued, “Before now, we used to see climate change as a tragedy, a woe, and something to be scared about. Today, there are a lot of opportunities that climate change has brought.

“As young people, you should begin to see how you can create jobs from climate change – in the area of renewable energy, solid waste management, writing, advocacy, creative expressions like literature, poem or music, just to push out the message of climate change.

“One major problem we have in Nigeria is deforestation, most women in the local communities cook with firewood and some of them are dying because of the effects of smoke on their health. Young people can partner private companies, creating innovative clean cook stove solution. Those products can be sold to the huge market in Nigeria. That way, you make money and impact lives. I want to see Nigerian youths who have understood climate change to look out for opportunities in the areas renewable sources of energy to provide power for the millions of people off-grid. Waste management is another big issue in Nigeria, single-use plastic recycling, architecture and many other aspects.”

Source The Nation Nigeria

THE YOUTH CLIMATE STRIKE AS SEEN BY TEEN PHOTOGRAPHERS

ON MARCH 15, young people around the world walked out of school and into the streets. From San Francisco to South Africa, an estimated 1.4 million students raised their collective voices to bring awareness to the urgency of climate change.

It was the largest ever global action against the harms of climate change, and it was pulled off entirely by children. A teenager named Greta Thunberg inspired the strike, and kids across the globe heeded her call, organizing strikes in their hometowns and hitting the pavement. Adults came out in support, but they were there to listen, not lead. The message of the global climate strikes were clear: The youth will have to live on a climate-ravaged Earth, and so it is their voices that must be heard.

In that spirit, WIRED hired two teenage photographers to cover the climate strikes in the US from their perspective: In Atlanta, 17-year-old Henry W. Grady High School senior Esme Bella Rice photographed the strike in front of the Georgia State Capitol building; and in San Francisco, 18-year-old Max Buenviaje-Boyd. a senior at Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, photographed the large march from the Federal Building at Civic Center through downtown to Union Square.

Buenviaje-Boyd, a San Francisco native, has been to plenty of protests. “But what was really different about this one was that it was completely student-led and student-organized. There was this pride that we can do this by ourselves if we have to,” he says of the feeling at the march. “And when it comes to climate issues, we will have to do this by ourselves. This is our future.”

Even as he clambered up scaffolding and talked his way onto a tourist bus to get shots of the SF crowd, Buenviaje-Boyd says he couldn’t stop smiling. “People were coming up from [Senator] Dianne Feinstein’s office toward Union Square, and I just asked one of those double-decker drivers if I could get on his bus, and he was kind enough to let me.” That size of the march surpassed the expectations he and his friend Nadja Goldberg, who planned the event, had in their wildest imaginations. The images Buenviaje-Boyd captured show how the 1,000 or more students easily took over Market Street downtown.

The turnout in Atlanta, by contrast, was much smaller. Local student photographer Rice estimates that it included some 70 to 80 people. But they were equally passionate. “It’s so empowering to see young people actually take responsibility to gather and do something,” she says. Organizers gave speeches via megaphones and passed out sheets of chants to the crowd, who yelled in unison loudly enough for passing cars to hear.

“There’s such a stigma around teens, that everyone just does stuff for attention or to be cool,” according to Rice. “But they were there not to just brag about being at a protest and skipping school. They were there with a purpose and you could really see that.”

The photos Buenviaje-Boyd and Rice took document their generation showing up, standing up, and facing the future with purpose.

Source Wired

South African youths march for action against climate change

Thousands of school students across South Africa called on government to act against climate change. Youths demonstrated at Parliament in Cape Town, the Union Buildings in Pretoria, and the Department of Energy in Durban.

In Cape Town, over a thousand learners from numerous schools across the province gathered with bright coloured posters outside Parliament. They chanted, “Stop denying! Our earth is dying”, “Mother earth, can we fix it? Mother Earth, yes we can!” and “Change your mind, not your planet.”

During the 2019 Budget Speech, Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni acknowledged the seriousness of climate change. He said that steps are being taken at Eskom to expand renewable energy. He promised that a carbon tax would be in effect by 1 June 2019.

“When I was 11 years old, my parents took me on a trip around Africa, and because of that, I felt first hand the dramatic effects of climate change,” said Ruby Sampson, a Grade 12 student at Wynberg girls high. Inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist, Sampson joined the movement and started organising Cape Town to join the global protest.

Thunberg started the #FridaysforFuture movement in August 2018. The movement mobilises learners across the globe to protest against climate change on Fridays.

“Politicians have been ignoring it for generations but you have activists and scientists that have been telling us that this has been coming for many decades,” Sampson said. Looking around, she said about the protest, “It’s overwhelming but fantastic” that all these people have joined.

“Climate change is important for the youth to care about because we are the ones who will be affected by it. It might not affect us right now but it is going to affect our future and if we don’t do anything about it, we might not have an earth to live on,” said 14-year-old Nonku Ncube from St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls.

The group chanted “Tax the polluter”, “We don’t have a planet B” and “Keep the oil in the ground”.

An organiser of the protest, Chris Engelbrecht, who is also a physics professor at the University of Johannesburg, told GroundUp that climate change was going to affect everyone but particularly poor people, who will not be able to protect themselves from the shortage of food and other outcomes.

He said wealthy people, who are often the biggest contributors to damage to the environment, would be able to adapt, but those with nothing would not. “The irony is that those people who are the most responsible for it will be affected the least and those who are least responsible will be affected the most,” said Engelbrecht.

Alycia Hibbert, a student at the University of Pretoria, also said she was inspired by Greta Thunberg. “I never understood how little time we have left, for Africa specifically, because we don’t have the resources or structures in place to deal with the disasters to come,” she said.

She said the government should be promoting sustainable environmental practices, particularly in the farming and electricity industries. “For farming especially, a lot of our carbon footprint can be reduced depending on the way we do our meat production … And on top of that, we don’t recycle and manage our waste the way we should,” she said.

Engelbrecht said the environmental crisis was dire and the South African government had about a decade to turn it around. “But for that to happen, government needs to change all coal power stations to renewable energy right now … There is money for it and there are solutions but it’s about the political will.”

He said the biggest challenge was the fear of losing jobs, but he said government needs to start training people for renewable energy sectors now so that when the transition happens, people will not be left jobless.

Nicole Rabie, from an organisation called Extension Rebellion, read out a letter urging government to make climate change an important part of its policies for the 2019 election. The letter said it appreciated the government signing the Paris agreement, an international commitment to tackling climate change, but many of the plans were vague.

In the centre of Durban, about 250 young people braved the scorching sun and marched from the Marine building to the offices of the Department of Energy. There was one message for the department: “Wake up!” and see what climate change is really about.

Janet Samson from Oceans Not Oil, one of the organisations behind the protest, said, “Government needs to start shifting it’s mentality, to start understanding and listening to the scientists. They need to shift their policy to accommodate the issue of climate change.”

A representative from the Department of Energy, Zukiswa Mthimkhulu, signed the memorandum of demands. She promised that she would take it to the right people in the department.

Source Ground Up