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Monday, August 16th, 2010 - 4 comments

African youth raise their voices on climate change

Today’s African youth and future generations will inherit the climate system in whichever way governments decide to leave it. The older generation must take responsible action, and the younger generation must live up to the task at hand.

Rising numbers, rising threats

Recent IPPC findings show that by the year 2050, 250,000 million people in developing countries will lack water; 20 million people will be displaced (homeless) due to rising sea level; 20% – 30% of the world’s animal species will go into extinction due population explosion and desert encroachment on the forest; and the global temperature will increase by 4.5%.

In Africa, which is one of the most vulnerable continents, food security will be gravely threatened, and worsened by the high level of poverty. 40% of the African Gross National Product is obtained in agriculture and 70% of all African labor is employed in this sector. The dominant role of agriculture makes it obvious that even minor climate deterioration can cause devastating socioeconomic consequences. Adaption and mitigation require education and finance.

Injustice measured in degrees centigrade

Governments of all nations must therefore note with concern the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change presented in its 4th Assessment Report, that climate change may affect most strongly the poorest regions and people — especially women, young people and children. The rising temperatures will impact agriculture, food security and availability of water, all of which are traditionally women’s responsibility in many developing countries.

Already, young people in Africa are recognizing that climate change will undermine efforts to eradicate poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals. This raises serious questions about justice and equity. The present generation of African youth will spend the next 40 years of their lives de-carbonizing the environment, even though they have not been the ones responsible for climate change.

Engaging youth

Engaging young people to address climate change is a critical element to any nation’s strategy. Young people are a key point of influence for other segments of society (e.g., families and communities). If citizens come to understand the risks of climate change and how they can play a role in reducing the impact of climate change, they can become an integral part of the solution. Youth are an important source of creativity, enthusiasm and drive for any actions to address climate change.

Since COP15, an inspired and motivated group of young people have raised their voices and actions in demanding  climate justice around the world, and in demanding that Africa is not left behind. They refuse to die silently, but are instead of coming together under the umbrella of African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC) with Regional Office in Nairobi, Kenya with National Coalitions like The Nigerian Youth Climate Coalition and Ghana Youth Climate Coalitions. Young people have also gathered under the 350 Africa.

The importance of engaging the next generation of decision makers, those who will experience the negative impact of climate change, has been widely agreed upon. Although a contingent of young Africans is already taking action, youth participation has been, on the whole, insubstantial and has not received continued support.

  • How do we engage more young people in our efforts to manage and reverse climate change?
  • What are sustainable ways of living and working that will return our planet to health?
  • Should certain countries take responsibility to ‘green the planet,’ or is it everyone’s responsibility?
  • What do the wealthiest nations that have grown rich by polluting the environment owe to the young people in regions that are hit hardest by climate change?

The views expressed in this blog-post are solely those of the author.

Comments (4)

Fraizer Chola
Wednesday 18th August, 2010, 10:25am

This is greate achievement Esther, I am also a climate Change advocacy in Zambia. I intend to target the youth in all sectors of the economy as this particular matter requires a integrated efforts if we are to win it.
I would love to learn more from you Esther how best you doing the activities in helping combating Climate Change. kindly may you share with some of the ideas you have in this aspect.


Climate Change, Migration, and Health « ICMHD
Thursday 19th August, 2010, 4:44am

[...] Africa’s Youth Face Unjust Realities of Climate Change ( [...]

Tabitha Njoroge
Monday 23rd August, 2010, 11:34am

Congratulations Esther. This is good. Keep doing what you can with what you have in your hands. That is what will take Africa to the next level. Well done!

Las personas mayores y el cambio climático « RDi Press
Thursday 26th August, 2010, 4:07pm

[...] Africa’s Youth Face Unjust Realities of Climate Change ( [...]

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Guest Editor

Esther Agbarakwe


Esther is 25 years old. She is the Founder and Coordinator of The Nigeria Youth Climate Coalition. Her advocacy work developed the Common Youth Climate Change Response Policy and Action Plan, which lays a foundation for policy and implementation processes across Nigeria. Esther was the only Nigerian Youth Delegate to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of Parties. She coordinates the African Region for the UN Commission on Sustainable Development, Youth and Children Major. She is a 2009 Dekeyser & Friends Foundation Fellow. Esther was selected to be IUCN Commission on Education and Communication National Focal Point for Nigeria. She is also an active blogger:

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