Climate change: Youths should be engaged

HARARE - Youths have been challenged to partner government in crafting adaptation measures to climate change.

The call came out during a week-long strategic planning meeting for the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa), Alliance held in Harare.

In an interview with the Daily News, Maclay Kanyangarara, Comesa climate change advisor, said climate change has ceased to be an environmental issue only, but is now a developmental problem.

“One of the most effective ways of mitigating effects of climate change is by including youths agenda in the developmental plans for each country as well as ensuring participation in decision-making processes as well as negotiations concerning climate change at regional and international forums,” he said.

Kanyangarara said climate change has created a huge ecological debt which present and future generations of the developing world will disproportionately bear for hundreds of years.

According to Green Enviro-Watch, a youth environment lobby group, the developing world faces challenges in terms of the impacts of climate change and the capacity to respond to it.

Archiford Chemhere, a representative of the Zimbabwean Chapter of Green Enviro Watch said the main agenda of the meeting is to come up with a funding strategy for the alliance.

A member of Comesa Secretariat from Zambia, Lwembe Mwale said there is less youth participation in climate change hence the meeting has been helpful as it has come up with ways of encouraging youth policy dialogue with their governments.

Mwale said the dialogue will assist youths forward their ideas on how they can participate in climate change projects.

The youths have also been encouraged to initiate projects as water harvesting, recycling, constructive agricultural projects and other forestry projects to help reduce climate change and at the same time fight unemployment.

Mariam Allam from Egypt said apart from participating in programmes and projects within organisations young people can take a leading role in tackling climate change.

“By making small changes in their daily lives, this generation of young people can make a great difference. Youth can take action by making small changes at home and promoting a sustainable lifestyle in their local communities by acting as good examples,” she said.

According to the 2011 World Youth Report on Youth and Climate Change, youths in developing countries, especially in regions within Africa and Asia where a majority of the world’s youth live, will likely be more affected by climate change and its negative consequences than young people in developed countries.

Extreme weather events are occurring more frequently and in developing countries in particular.

The consequences of extreme weather events have direct impact on health and safety of youth in these regions, especially when sanitary facilities and waste water management are poor.

Since 30-50 percent of youth in many African countries lack access to basic services, they are highly subject to the risk of disease in case of extreme weather events.

A total of 134 countries were being represented at the meeting and these include Zambia, Botswana, Namibia, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi and Nigeria among others. - John Kachembere and Ndakaziva Majaka

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