Ositadinma Izuegbunam Evaristus,Ifeoluwa Adebola Wuraola,Temiloluwa Adebusuyi Seun,Jimoke Oguntimehin Olubusola and Ama Acheampomaa.
Even after having a heaped plate of plantain,Tombrown to lighten my tongue and Okra soup to make it slippery,I still couldn’t pronounce the names of these amazing new friends I made at the Northern Africa Regional Meeting in Ghana.
See, this is the diversity that International Forestry Students Association promotes by bringing together forestry students from all over the world to enrich their formal education and promote cultural understanding.
In its 2017, Northern Africa Regional Meeting(NARM) held at the University of Energy and Natural Resources in Sunyani, Ghana. It aimed at building the commitment of the youth towards the achievement of sustainable use of land, forest and water resource; and strengthening their capacity through education to meet the challenges of climate change.
The Intergovernmental Panel on climate change defines climate change as any change in climate over time, whether due to natural variability or as a result of human activity.
What is the role of youth in improving resilience to climate change?
It was Wednesday,3rd day into the meeting,my make up was on point and I found this perfect lighting for a selfie.Yes! A selfie! After listening to all those lectures.What a relief! So I quickly set my phone on selfie mode,made my hair,tilted my head and ofcourse made a pout.As I was just about to press click.I heard Prof.Akindele from Nigeria say “did you know that you can create awareness about climate change with a single click on your phones?” AHA! But Prof! You don’t just ruin a selfie moment like that.Good lighting and perfect picture pout does not come easy.
Climate change awareness raising
You see,according to Statista 2014, 53.2% of global internet users were between 15 and 34 years old. As of January 2017, the majority of internet users were located in growing online markets in Asia, highlighting the increasingly young online audience. Younger internet users such as Millennials are also increasingly mobile, spending an average of 185 minutes per day online via mobile devices.
The youth could therefore use the internet in raising awareness about climate change by sharing pictures on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat and blogging.
Climate change and forestry advocacy
So there was this guy, Alex Onatunji Bimbo from Nigeria,who had answers to almost every question posed by the presenters.Eish! I believe he is a Kenyan.You know it is said that we are the smartest in Africa.There is no way those brains could have been from Nigeria (No pun intended).
Just like Alex,the youth have a wide array of knowledge in the sustainable use of forests, land water resources and can therefore formulate youth networks for: advocacy, lobbying, awareness raising and capacity building on climate change and the sustainable use of natural resources.
Holding governments accountable on their Environmental decisions
Youth should also hold governments accountable especially in decisions that have an impact on natural resources as we are the ones who will experience the consequences of bad environmental decisions made by our leaders.
Creation of green jobs
And I finally met someone who posts more photos on Instagram than I do.Good heavens, if my best friend met her,he will not complain that I take lots of photos and task him with the tedious job of helping me choose which one to post on Instagram and what hashtag to use.
See her smizing in her glasses.
Back to Temi Adebusuyi,this girl not only takes a million photos and posts all of them on Instagram and facebook with the hashtag #forestersinthemaking but she is also focussed on having her own green organization.
The youth can actually be real bosses #forestryboss #greeniscool #forestrybosslady #climatechangeactivist, on Instagram by creating green jobs that have the capacity to preserve or restore environmental quality and mitigate against the impact of climate change. In Kenya youth number about 9.1 million and account for 32% of the population and 60% of the total labour force. However majority are unemployed due to the country’s high unemployment levels. (National youth policy, Kenya , 2006).Creation of green jobs will provide employment to young people as well environmental conservation.
Why should the youth be involved in climate change awareness?
Whose Jollof rice is the most tasty?
I listened to my Nigerian friend Ifeoluwa and Ghanaian friend Daniel argue on how Nigerian Jollof rice is better than the Ghanaian Jollof rice.
Nigerian jollof rice picture courtesy of Nigerian recipes
What they didn’t know is that they could both lose the title of best Jollof rice making country as increased deforestation and continued use of fossil fuels has exacerbated the impacts of climate change leading to a reduction in crop yields which threatens food security.
To increase food security,the youth should be adequately involved in the sustainable use of forests,land and water resources as it is from these resources that food is obtained.
By the way,I had to increase rate at which I was eating my plantain just incase they wanted to find out if the plantain on my plate was tasty too.
Protection of water catchment areas
Forests are important water catchment areas.To ensure their protection,the youth should involve their local communities in the protection of these water sources.
Remember that selfie moment spoilt by Prof Akindele? I still got it, but in Mim Buor forest,a virgin forest which is about 2 square km and serves as a protective god to the people of Mim and a source of a River Tano.
Well ofcourse Prof.Akindele wasn’t there this time round.He was in the bus.Couldn’t make it a top the mountain.Talk of the perks of being young and energetic.
The group exercise on creating a pictorial representation of a sustainable forest management landscape, by Prof. Joseph Cobbinah (International Union of Forest Research Organizations) as part of his presentation on preparing and writing research proposals was my highlight in NARM 2017.
The session shed light on how we as youth can sustainably use forests to satisfy both our economic , social and ecological needs, improve our skills in and familiarity with a range of methods and tools for improving the design of projects , and upgrade our capacity to access financing for research activities from existing and emerging financing mechanisms.
“Midase” (Thank you) Ghana.I had a good one.