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Monday, December 4, 2023

Climate change activism, beyond young people

Far more than it should be, the world is fast getting comfortable with associating “climate change activism” primarily with “young people”. As you read this, hundreds of young people (activists as we call them today) from different corners of the world are leading climate change advocacy in different ways: staying away from school on Fridays, carrying placards on the street, leading demonstrations in front of parliaments, or trending hashtags on X and Instagram.

Young people
Young people in a demonstration calling on the government to address the climate emergency in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo credit: Nardus Engelbrecht/AP

It is only logical for young people who are anxious about the future to lead the discussion around climate change, spread awareness and motivate others to take action. Of course, there are results to show that young climate activists raising their voices to advocate is meaningfully influencing decision-making and challenging the status quo. As commendable as it is, we must be reminded that climate change impacts everyone and leaving only youth activists at the frontline because “the future belongs to them” isn’t a narrative that we must keep peddling.

Climate change activism must go beyond just young people. Faith-based organisations (FBOs), trade unions, professional associations, village associations, environmental groups, women’s rights groups, farmers’ associations, foundations, independent research institutes, community-based organisations (CBOs), people’s organisations, social movements, labour unions, indigenous groups, and many other umbrellas of CSOs must recognise that we collectively should be involved in creating the world we will have to live in.

The diverse areas of competence that each of these entities can bring to the climate change discourse can better shape the framework for sustainable development through economic, social and political perspectives. From grassroots levels to the national, regional and local levels, CSOs should consider themselves instrumental to help with addressing climate change adaptation strategies and developing inclusive societies.

In the end, we must accept that the impacts of climate change as it intensifies with each passing year, will affect us all. The earlier we think of climate change activism, beyond young people’s responsibility the sooner we can bring about the desired positive change.

By ‘Seyifunmi Adebote

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