Youths from around the world champion wildlife protection

Environmental crime has become the world’s fourth-largest crime sector, growing at 2–3 times the rate of the global economy. INTERPOL and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimate that natural resources worth up to US$258 billion are being stolen by criminal syndicates, depriving countries of their resources, revenues and development opportunities.

The World Youth Wildlife Summit took place in September at the Kruger National Park in South Africa, bringing together educators and conservation leaders to discuss and address the threat of wildlife crime. About 150 young conservationists from the Southern African Development Community and their counterparts learned how to influence environmental policies at national, regional and international levels.

The summit came at a time when youths are becoming more proactive in identifying solutions to existing and emerging environmental challenges. Since they make up more than 75 per cent of the total population, youths can dramatically shape socio-political and cultural decision-making processes on environmental issues.

The Project Rhino and the Kingsley Holgate Foundationorganizations, the main facilitators of the event, are harnessing this incredible potential. They provide forums for youth to engage in wildlife conservation activities, in collaboration with experts from different countries and organizations, at the same time providing the opportunity for different stakeholders to network and come up with national and regional frameworks that would promote wildlife conservation.

According to Francis Du Toit, the Project Rhino Ambassador, “3.6 million people in Africa are employed in the wildlife economy, creating 40 per cent more full-time jobs than the same investment in agriculture. It has twice the job creation power of the automotive, telecommunications and financial industries and provides more job opportunities for women compared to other sectors.”

“In South Africa, 769 rhinos and 72 elephants were poached by criminal syndicates in the year 2018,” Chris Galliers, Coordinator of Project Rhino said.

At the summit, several youths were recognized for their wildlife conservation efforts, including advocacy, and photography. The delegates made declarations to engage and support the youths more to conserve African wildlife heritage.

Unemployment among young people has for a long time been a challenge in most developing countries, creating a loophole through which crime syndicates lure the young people into drugs, crime, human trafficking, and illegal trade in wildlife and their products. With the ever-growing technological inventions, and with the right exposure, youths have the potential to spearhead the development of sustainable solutions for the challenges faced in Africa and promote the Sustainable Development Goals.

Their potential to influence the development of and implementation of conservation strategies through their innovative thinking to solve complex issues is a facet that is yet to be realized and utilized at large by governments and conservation sectors. Efforts to conserve nature and advocate for its conservation and sustainability has often been perceived as obstacles to development in not only the African continent but across other continents such as Asia.

In 2015, the heads of states and governments of the African Union adopted the Agenda 2063, which is Africa’s roadmap for transforming the continent into the global powerhouse of the future. For African governments to achieve this, there is a need to harmonize all societal sectors including the private sector, civil society and local communities, including marginalized communities such as indigenous people, women and youths to work collaboratively and develop and commit to a systematic environmental conservation plan.

Source UN Environment

3 Ways Young People Can Come Together To Fight Climate Change

By (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.

UN Environment Helping Gambian youth find greener pastures at home

A staggering number of young Gambians have lost their lives trying to escape to Europe. UN Environment is implementing the largest natural resource development project in the history of the country to make their lives better back home.

For Alagie Camora, using his dwindling savings to leave The Gambia for Europe seemed the best option after the government closed the border with Senegal in 2015, and his vegetable import business that brought in US$50 a month collapsed.

But after surviving the perilous journey across deserts to reach Libya, “the back way” to Europe, he was captured and jailed alongside many other Gambians, stripped of everything they owned, abused and denied clean water, toilets and food.

After a month of hearing the many stories of countrymen being extorted and killed in Libya, drowning in the Mediterranean or becoming beggars on the streets of Europe, a weakened Camora and 140 other Gambians flew home, vowing to start a farming business on home soil.

“We go to Senegal to get vegetables—why don’t we try in this country? We can encourage people to grow and stay here,” said Camora, who set up the Association of Returnees from the Back Way.

The Gambia is one of the world’s smallest nations, with a population of under 2 million, yet so many Gambians have left that the country ranks as one of the world’s top six nations for migration via Libya and the Mediterranean.

As a sliver of land with a river running through it to the west African coast, The Gambia is highly susceptible to climate change, and its people very vulnerable after decades of dictatorial rule by President Yaya Jammeh, who was ousted in 2016.

Increasingly frequent and severe floods and droughts have caused erosion and damaged agricultural lands, while rising temperatures, erratic rainfall and increasing deforestation and poor farming practices have dried up or washed away soils, leading to degradation and desertification.

“In many of these rural areas, the environment and natural resource conditions are one of the driving reasons for migration,” said Alagie Manjang, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources.

The rural exodus of largely young people means that 53.5 per cent of Gambians now live around the capital Banjul, where a lack of opportunities drives many young people to set their sights further afield, said Lamin Dibba, The Gambia’s Minister of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources.

“Most of them think that Europe is the solution, so they leave to look for greener pastures abroad,” he said.

Bubu Jallow, a meteorologist and one of The Gambia’s leading climate change negotiators, said that a 30 per cent reduction in rainfall over the past 50 years has caused people to abandon their fields.

“This influx from the rural to the urban has been happening since the 1970s, because the rains in this country really failed after 1968,” he said.

Fatou Jammeh Touray is Governor of The Gambia’s Upper River Region, where there has been a massive exodus of youth, and many losses.

“So many young people have died,” he said, recalling meeting one family that lost seven sons to boats sinking in the Mediterranean in 2016.

Touray and other politicians are keen to dispel the myths spread through social media that Europe, a short hop across the “river”, is a poor man’s paradise.

Camora’s Association of Returnees from the Back Way is looking to stop young people from leaving The Gambia and helping those who return to go back to farming by getting land in the most hard-hit provinces. The Association has already managed to secure some areas of degraded land by approaching village chiefs, and hopes that young people will be given more opportunities as the government tries to build a green economy.

Dibba wants to create 25,000 green jobs for young people in their communities to stem migration and stop The Gambia from becoming even more dependent on importing food, as villages empty of young people “and they are left with only old people who don’t have the strength to till the soil”.

He has high hopes of turning the tide against migration, rural poverty and the country’s food insecurity with a US$25.5 million large-scale Ecosystems-based Adaptation project.

“This project is the single largest natural resource development project ever launched in the history of the development of this country,” he announced at the launch of the project in January 2018 in Banjul.

The Ecosystems-based Adaptation project will build climate resilience in four regions by rehabilitating degraded farmland, savannahs and forests with native species, and developing a sustainable, natural resource-based economy managed by local communities.

“The project will rehabilitate up to 10,000 hectares of degraded forest and wildlife parks through reforestation, enrichment planting, conservation of rare or endangered species as well as the restoration of 3,000 hectares of abandoned and marginal agricultural lands,” said Dibba.

UN Environment will implement the project, largely funded by the Green Climate Fund, over the next six years with the aim of helping at least 11,500 households directly and 46,500 indirectly, of which half will be women, across four target regions.

“We all left this country to look for greener pastures and we’ve returned back to look for it here,” said Camora.

“We have to believe in ourselves and say that we are Africans, not Europeans, and people there might be further ahead than us here in The Gambia, but as youths we need to encourage Gambians so that they can stay and do well here.”

Source UN Environment