Climate Action Post-COVID19, Hope for Africa by Elizabeth Gulugulu
The world has slowly been progressing on the Climate Crisis with 189 out of 197 nations being a signatory of the Paris Agreement. Scientists around the world have estimated that humans cause approximately 1.0°C of global warming above pre-industrial levels and there is a need for urgent action to combat climate change (IPCC Report 2019). Having that being said the United States of America being a major polluter in terms of Green House Gas emissions has already started the process of disengaging itself from the Paris Agreement meaning it will be business as usual for the Americans starting November 2020. The year 2020 marks a renewal of the parties National Determined Contributions and in Madrid last year at COP25 there was a huge momentum from youth making interventions encouraging and reminding parties the importance of renewing their Climatic ambitions. The COP of 'ambition' did not give satisfactory results and this only meant one thing to the youths more advocacy and climate action back home. Together with my African colleagues, we had so much in common in terms of hardships but we realized we needed to unite and amplify our voices so as to create the Africa we want, come up with African solutions for our African problems.
The past years have been difficult for most African countries with a number of climate catastrophes affecting people and planet putting the vulnerable at great risk. In the Southern part of Africa, Cyclone Idai destroyed lives, infrastructure, and livelihoods. A report by the United Nations in 2019 stated that approximately 5.7 million people in Zimbabwe were food insecure due to floods and droughts. East Africa has been battling desert locusts beginning of the year 2020, even Locusts too are feeling the pressures of Climate Change which have led them to migrate in search of water and food. These locusts have destroyed crops, vegetables, fodder for livestock, trees, fruits, and affected livelihoods. In central Africa Climate Change has affected forests and biodiversity affecting people's livelihoods, this has been due to rising temperatures making more plants fail to adapt, prolonged dry spells changing forest species composition, and extreme weather events affecting the habitat of different species leading to animal migration. West Africa and North Africa have since been suffering from very high temperatures resulting to drought affecting economic development.
The year 2020, which marks the beginning of the Decade of Action, we started our activities on a high note. As African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC) we have felt the heat too, we have slept with hungry stomachs, our friends and families have been victims of Climate Change and we now understand the pain and the struggles of losing everything after investing so much. We started with building a strong team of environmental activists and we introduced an online mentorship program to our team members on Climate Change negotiations. We mobilized a number of young people to participate at the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development (ARFSD) to influence policy and decisions on the 5Ps ( People, Peace, Planet, Partnership and Prosperity) this was accompanied by a number of radio and tv shows on the Climate Crisis, green economy through sustainable development as we aim a net carbon zero by 2050.
We also engaged communities in land restoration programs through tree planting activities and managed to legally establish a fish farming project in one of our communities as a way of ensuring food security and biodiversity conservation. As the Global Pandemic COVID-19 has ravaged economies, affecting livelihoods, we still continue to reach out through social media platforms.
To us, in the climate movement, the pandemic has shown us that it is very possible to reduce our Green House Gas emissions (GHGs) and we are hopeful that the future can be green again if Parties decide to take the green pathway in terms of development.
It is our hope as young people that we continue being a source of inspiration to others through guarding our planet jealously demanding and advocating for good policies that are environmentally friendly and taking action through small initiatives.
Solidarity is key in fighting our world's problems, as nations invest in different sectors it is of vast importance to also invest and support youth initiatives not only in times of a crisis but all the time. As the world is focusing on healing and finding an antidote for COVID-19 let this be an opportunity to conscientize on the nexus between Climate Change and health. There is now a need for more action and dedication than ever, let us learn from the crisis and try to live a healthy life by making our planet healthy through sustainable food consumption, low emission transport, efficient energy use and finally embracing technology. Youth is the hope of Africa!
About the author:
Elizabeth Gulugulu is an Environmentalist from Zimbabwe currently doing her Msc in Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture. She is the projects manager for AYICCZim, Ambassador for Africa Youth Climate Hub and BLT member for the Children and Youth Constituency (YOUNGO) to the UNFCCC (@Lizgulaz - Twitter, firstname.lastname@example.org)