Empowering African Youth for climate action: Breaking barriers
In the face of a growing crisis, organizations like Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE) in Togo are fostering activism and action for a sustainable future. Luttah Aluora, Programmes Coordinator for JVE tells their story of accompanying the youth for climate action.
Climate change poses a tangible threat to our planet, affecting nature, biodiversity, and people’s livelihoods on a global scale. The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reaffirms this perilous reality, yet regrettably, there has been little meaningful action taken to address it. Africa’s youthful population finds itself on the frontline of this climate crisis, impacting major economic, social, and political sectors. By 2050, this youthful population is expected to double, precisely when the continent is projected to face some of the most severe consequences of climate change.
Despite these unsettling predictions, non-governmental organizations like Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE) in Togo are actively working to strengthen the resilience and determination of African youth. Their goal is to ensure that young voices from diverse backgrounds are integrated into every facet of development and climate action. Collaborating with various institutions and organizations, JVE organized a Master Class on environmental activism and social justice during the 19th edition of the annual AgroBioCultures (ABC) Festival. The objective was to transform young environmental enthusiasts into activists who champion human, environmental, and social rights and justice.
Monsin Gilles Florent, a member of JVE astutely pointed out, “Despite all attempts to deny, conceal, gloss over, or downplay the issue, the signs of climate change are undeniable and increasingly apparent. Recent years have borne witness to extreme weather events, prolonged periods of unusual heat, and widespread protests.”
Sharpening tools for better work performance
To address the challenges posed by limited capacity and opportunities, the Master Class contributed to bolstering the youth’s knowledge and skills in policy advocacy. It also raised their awareness regarding environmental matters, including ecosystem preservation and nature conservation. The programme connected the actions of past environmental and social justice heroes to current achievements and identified immediate and strategic opportunities for youth engagement with high-level decision-makers. As a means to facilitate cross-country learning and regional exchanges across Africa, this event saw the participation of around 200 youth from six African countries within the Western and Central African sub-regions. The culmination of this event was a massive mobilization march, demanding the cessation of fossil fuel production and consumption, as these young individuals vigorously contributed to the global effort to curtail fossil fuels.
JVE’s member Goka Mawuli noted, “What sets the ABC Festival apart is that the Master Class participants, trained in activism for environmental and social justice, took action by marching through the city to protest against fossil fuels. We must hold those responsible for environmental damage accountable.”
In the lead-up to the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28), these well-informed youth activists are actively reaching out to their leaders to ensure that policy changes prioritize nature and people, with a realistic inclusion of youth perspectives. Their aim is also to guarantee that youth fully benefit from government-funded programs and initiatives by development partners aimed at scaling up climate action. As a generation of young individuals who are aware of and concerned about their future, JVE has provided a network and numerous platforms through which young people can find support, coordinate local actions, and contribute to international policy processes.
Key actions committed to and already being implemented by these youth activists include adapting to more sustainable lifestyles. This includes reducing water and energy consumption, minimizing plastic usage and waste generation, and favouring local and organic food. Furthermore, these young individuals are actively involved in local initiatives, such as tree planting, and are at the forefront of innovation when it comes to providing locally tailored alternatives and solutions for clean and efficient energy, waste management, and climate-friendly technologies.
JVE’s programmes continue to offer unwavering support to young environmental activists, entrepreneurs, innovators, and indigenous leaders as they display courage, influence, and vision in the face of the daunting global challenges they have inherited. They are occupying space in policy and development processes, working diligently to secure their future on a healthier planet.
Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE) in Togo is among partners of the African Biodiversity Network within the West African Node.