To mark the International Youth Day 2022, International Land Coalition Africa (ILC Africa) and its partners organized a conference with over 400 youth. In this piece, ILC Africa communications intern, a participant, reflects on youth and climate change
On 12th August, I took part in celebrating the International Youth Day 2022. ILC Africa and its partners organized a conference on youth and land, and as an intern I was charged with listening to other youth synthesizing the discussion. I paid particular attention to ILC Africa's session on youth contribution to climate change. The discussion also prompted me to search further. From the emerging ideas, here are four ways youth can contribute to addressing the current climate crisis.
1. Educate ourselves about environmental degradation
As youth, we have the power to demand change and make our voices heard. But before we can do that, we need to educate ourselves about the environmental degradation happening all around us. During the Global Land Forum held on the 21st to the 23rd of May 2022 in Jordan, the youth had a great opportunity to learn and share experiences addressing land matters and how to counteract climate change. It was a great platform to hear youth voices, evidenced in the GLFY Declaration (co-presented by one of the delegates from ILC Africa). The Declaration remains a living document for all youth interested in learning more about the global status of the environmental crisis and the role of youth.
Educate yourself by reading articles and attending (tele)conferences on the topic of global warming. One of the takeaways from the 2022 Global Land Forum was how young voices are bringing the energy needed in the fight to secure land rights and counteract climate change in their local communities. We can create awareness and spread information about climate change in many ways.
It’s important that youth become aware of how their actions impact the environment. Knowing what you're talking about when discussing climate change is an excellent first step in understanding how you can help solve it.
2. Take action in our communities
One way we can contribute to climate change is by taking action in our community. This could involve organizing a neighborhood clean-up, working with local businesses to reduce waste, starting a community garden or participating in tree planting days. For instance, we can get involved with the Green Belt Movement’s work by being a Hummingbird. You will be able to plant a tree in your neighborhood or work on conservation issues locally.
Wanjiru Wathuti a young climate activist from Kenya founded the Green Generation Initiative whereby she advocates to address global environmental challenges that she identified since she was a child, including deforestation, pollution, and environmental injustices. Like her, and other ILC Youth Fellows doing impressive work in their local communities, we can create awareness and spread information about climate change in many ways.
3. Encourage policy change
Our votes as youth count. In Kenya, where I live, youth make up about 70% of the population. “Youth can play a critical role in enhancing climate resilience taking into consideration their active role and population,” said Robert Muthami, one of the youth presenters at the International Youth Day 2022 conference. As youth, let us vote for candidates who prioritize environmental protection! During the 2022 Kenya General elections 22-year-old Anita Soina put up an effort to vie as a Member of Parliament for Kajiado North and one of her pledges was to push climate action with the urgency she says is missing at the top . She might have lost the seat but she did challenge other youth to consider taking action.
4. Use the power of social media
Social media has the best networking tools to connect people and create productive conversation. Actor and Environmentalist Leonardo Dicaprio has one of the most engaging Instagram pages on climate change content. Much of his content is geared towards environmental activism. Let’s share our thoughts about climate change and the environment with others through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We can also use apps like Snapchat and YouTube to show people what life is like in regions where environmental challenges like drought, flooding, and air pollution are already present such as the flooding experienced in the KwaZulu Natal province of South Africa or the current drought in northern Kenya.
Anne Riziki wrote this piece as part of her internship at ILC Africa in Nairobi under Kevin Eze's supervision. Lead photo credit: IFAD/Susan Beccio