The ability of African countries to withstand severe impacts of climate change lies in policy and regulatory reforms to boost uptake of clean energy and sustainable lifestyles, youthful campaigners said on Saturday.
Speaking at a virtual forum in Nairobi, the youth from Kenya, Uganda and Nigeria said that climate resilience can be realized in Africa if governments prioritize enactment of progressive legislation and policies to enhance protection of ecosystems and spur low-carbon development.
Elizabeth Wathuti, a Kenyan climate justice campaigner said that African countries should prioritize low-emission growth in order to cushion local communities and the natural world from adverse impacts of climate change.
“We need to have policies that guarantee green and sustainable economic growth in Africa at a time when the climate crisis has worsened poverty, hunger and gender inequality,” said Wathuti.
The Wangari Maathai Foundation, named after the late Kenyan environmentalist and 2004 Nobel Peace Prize winner, organized the virtual forum to spotlight the role of African youth in tackling climate change.
Wanjira Maathai, chairperson of Wangari Maathai Foundation said that youth-led advocacy is required to spur action on the climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic that presents an existential threat to Africa’s sustainability agenda.
Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan young environment and founder of The Rise Up Movement said that African governments should incorporate the youth during development of climate policies in order to realize impact.
“The youth should be at the center of formulation of policies geared towards responding to climate change. We should also be fully involved in educating communities about how the climate crisis is a threat to their survival,” said Nakate.
She said that reforming the school curriculum to include lessons on climate change will help inspire the next generation to confront an ecological crisis that is a threat to livelihoods, peace and stability in Africa.
Olumide Idowu, a Nigerian young green campaigner said that political goodwill combined with friendly policies and public awareness are key to revitalizing action on climate change, habitat loss and pollution that has escalated in Africa.
“There is an urgency to mobilize political capital required to implement policies that encourage a transition to cleaner sources of energy and sustainable living,” said Idowu. Enditem