Intergenerational Solidarity; Creating a World for All Ages
As we know, climate change is causing changing weather patterns, rising sea levels, and more frequent extreme weather events. It is affecting every country in every continent. No one is excluded from the impacts of climate change and, therefore, all generations are both victims to this disaster and responsible for improving our future.
To tackle global climate issues and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) intergenerational solidarity, whereby all generations work together on addressing the challenge of climate change, is essential. Therefore, this term forms a good theme for the 2022 United Nation’s International Youth Day on the 12th August. The UN states that “the world needs to leverage the full potential of all generations” and, to avoid leaving no one behind, “we must collaborate to foster successful and equitable intergenerational relations and partnerships”.
As part of International Youth Day, we acknowledge that whilst young persons are victims of climate change, they are also part of the solution. They can act as agents of change, entrepreneurs and innovators. Despite the barriers they face, there are a lot of positive stories whereby the youth have used their voice to inform their society of the challenges of climate change. Youth-led movements and young activists are ever increasing, largely due to the power of social media in engaging and connecting people from around the world. One example of a youth-led movement which we are likely all aware of is Fridays for Future.
This is a youth-led movement that started in 2018 and has been running ever since. Inspired by Greta Thunberg and other young activists that started off protesting outside the Swedish parliament during school days, the movement gained momentum and soon became a way of protesting against the lack of action on the climate crisis and the ecological breakdown.
Their demands are simple; keep the global temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, ensure climate justice and equity, and listen to the best united science currently available. Prior to the pandemic, nearly 6 million people joined the Global Week of Climate Action 2019. Since then, the group has been petitioning a range of environmentally detrimental activities such as Japan building a coal power plant in Bangladesh. According to Earth.org, the “movement has achieved unprecedented successes, promoting governmental action by helping to push policies as well as leading the way for other movement to fight for important social causes.”
As well as these collaborative efforts, individuals are speaking up and generating substantial attention on their mission to put climate change at the forefront of our minds. As CO2balance’s projects are predominantly located in Africa, we want to shine a light on a few key climate activists in countries we work in.
1. Elizabeth Wathuti
COP26 in Glasgow last year demonstrated the power and voice of the youth. One stand out moment was Kenya-born Elizabeth Wathuti’s speech about the environmental situation of sub-Saharan Africa. Her emotive words called on leaders to recognise their inaction as she asked them to “please open your hearts” and “allow yourself to feel it, the heartbreak and the injustice is hard to bear”. She noted that the continent is responsible for nearly half a percent of historical emissions but they are feeling the impacts more than ever. Elizabeth has established the Green Generation Initiative which has gone on to encourage the planting of trees and food forests in Kenya.
2. Nkosilathi Nyathi
As a UNICEF climate advocate, Nkosilathi Nyathi works to spread awareness of climate change in Zimbabwe through video documentaries and public speaking. He was awarded a grant from the Global Infrastructure Hub in 2016 to construct a biogas digester at his primary school, resulting in the transition of fuel from firewood to the less polluting fuel of biogas in the school.
3. Leah Namugerwa
This Ugandan climate activist has dedicated her life to speaking up against her government and call them out for their failure to act against climate change. She has established a petition to pressure the Ugandan government to ban single-use plastic, worked with her local community to replant trees, and advocated for improved access to water and sanitation for vulnerable community members in Uganda.