In preparation for the forthcoming 28th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) holding in Dubai for two weeks from November 30, a civil society organisation (CSO), Earth Advocacy and Empowerment Foundation otherwise called Earth Advocates, at its 2023 Environment Symposium for secondary schools in Lagos State underscored the role and contribution of young people.
In his opening remarks, Comrade Yussuf ‘Tunji Kelani, Executive Director, Earth Advocates, said: “At the end of COP27, the findings and recommendations put forward is assessing the global effect of climate change talking about the crisis and the challenges we have in different parts of the world so assessing the level of loss and damage as a result of our inactions.
“Because when the agreement was reached in 2015 at COP21, a lot of the agreements were not put into action as lots of the countries such as United States of America, Russia and China backed out and these are the three major countries that contribute to the global warming.
“In Scotland, after COVID in 2021, it was an opportunity to come together again and look at the agreement with better ways of achieving them. Another major achievement of the last COP was the role of the young people in what they need to do, the action they need to drive in achieving that agreement. So, this year, we are going to continue from that according to UNFPA by focusing on the major role of the young people in area of education, advocacy and intervention especially in the area of renewable energy, agriculture and food security.
“These are some of the major things what we are taking to COP28 to discuss, young people, professional, business owners, government representatives from different countries will be engaged and be challenged that they ensure they play their roles and keep to the agreements.
“At the COP Agreement, there is emphasis on the young people. You don’t wait for young people till after university level because as you grow, the challenges of life become more. So, we decided to start from the secondary school level where they understand the effect of climate change very well, how they are going to initiate in their schools greening activities, plants and maintenance of trees and we are planning to establish climate change clubs in schools.”
In his submission, Olumide Idowu, Climate Advocate and co-founder of the International Climate Change Development Initiative (ICCDI Africa), highlighted issues related to in achieving the UN Paris Agreement.
“We all know that we young people are very crucial in addressing issues that have to do with climate change, we are also looking at how we can create a sustainable future for all. One of the critical roles that the young people need to play according to the Paris Agreement at COP21 which took place in 2015 is how do we mobilise and make sure that we are participating actively in climate related issues.
“We all know that young people globally have been at the forefront of climate activism, I just want us all to understand that activism and advocacy are a little bit different because if you want to be an activist you need to go against a lot of stuffs but when you are advocating you need to have an act of negotiating, so it is also a way of demanding action from government and also encouraging policy change and also determine the kind of passion that we have for this kind of project action that we call climate change.
“We also look at issue of education and awareness which has shown that some of our young generation at the secondary school level have what we call the Brain Club, the Environmental Club and so on, the Paris Agreement made us to understand that every young person needs to understand the concept, so youth engagement is actually one of the climate related education that we need to start looking at and the kind of awareness and the way that we are disseminating this knowledge so that we can build what we call knowledge transfer within young people and to also help us to inspire societal shift in our younger generation.
“We should not see climate change as a mere talk again, we should see it as opportunity for us, in as much as it is affecting the environment, we need to look at the business angle where we try to understand what other young people are doing to make money out of it,” he stated.
Mrs, Ebere Iwuagwu, a Climate Change Advocate, in her submission called on Lagos State Government to reactivate the Climate Change Club for schools just as it was being done in the past.
According to her, such a programme needs to be ongoing to help young people to be able to flow with the information that is going on globally.
“The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emphasise the global ambition of ensuring that everyone is carried along in the scheme of things. There are five pillars on which the SDGs stand, they are people, planet, prosperity, partnership and peace which simply means that everything around the environment is intertwined, and the basic essence is that everybody is carried along and everybody is within the economic agenda and agenda for peace.
“There are about 169 countries that have agreed to sign the agenda and in their different countries they are working towards achieving sustainable development in their different country plans by 2030,” she concluded.
Other notable speakers at the event included Mr. Taiwo Adewole, a Recycling Consultant and CEO, WasteXchange, and Mr. Thomas Emmanuel, an Environmentalist.
There were also representatives from schools such as Ansar-ud-deen College, Isolo; Christ Divine Favour College, Yaba; Ansar-ud-deen Girls College, Itire; and Lagos State College of Health Technology, Yaba, in attendance.
The 2023 Environment Symposium is themed: “Understanding and Protecting the Environment Series XI.”
By Ajibola Adedoye