Whether you are a movie fan or not, it is likely that you are familiar with the much-romanticized idea of ‘superheroes’ – the outstanding characters dedicated to fighting evil and defending the public.
Although we only get to watch them as fictional characters, the youth across the globe today are turning out to be the real-world superheroes; stepping up the fight against climate change. They are actively advancing solutions that can make a real difference, demanding bold action from world leaders and holding them accountable for their plans to combat the mounting climate crisis. Indeed, the 1.8 billion youth across the world are turning out to be ‘the guardians of earth’.
Even with this, I personally never quite understood how my daily actions exacerbated climate change. In fact, it was not until I took over the reins of the Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network (CSAYN) as country coordinator that I quite clearly comprehended the extent of my sector’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.
Now I know that the agriculture and food sector is the world’s second-largest emitter contributing towards 13% of total global emissions and is intimately connected to 75% of global deforestation.
It was in this regard that our network was formed; to build a global movement of young farmers at the forefront of cultivating a food secure world while reducing the sector’s negative environmental footprint.
Since we opened our doors, we have since worked with students to build their agribusiness acumen as well as capacity on climate smart agriculture to aid them to transition into profitable and sustainable farming after completing school.
We have also used the CSA photo contest and CSA Excellence centres (demonstration farms) as avenues to demonstrate the practical application of CSA technologies, innovations and management practices.
Moreover, to ensure that the concept of climate smart agriculture is scaled and adopted by rural farmers, we are developing a network of youthful extension officers who will act as the local communities’ trusted social structure to provide farmers with this key information.
In all this, we believe that although change comes from the top, most often, the biggest changes start from the grassroots level.
While we are buoyed by the progress at the youth network, we also realize that such nature-based solutions only cover a paltry 30% of the solution. It is for this reason that we have pursued advocacy and activism as a means to fight for bolder, urgent and more ambitious climate action.
However, If Greta Thunberg's experience is anything to go by, we realize that this is not a journey for the faint-hearted. From her activism, she has faced schoolyard insults and a steady barrage of personal attacks.
The vile and fierce criticism notwithstanding, we look forward to joining the millions of youth and activists at the Global Climate Strike on 20 September 2019. Organizers expect millions of people to take part, with people in 150 countries pledging to organize events. The scale of the youth movement is simply, unprecedented.
This will be a pivotal moment to make sure that those in positions of power hear our voices loud and clear; we need urgent action on the climate crisis. It will be an opportunity for the youth to once again be the ‘guardians of the earth’.
How great would it be if we had 1.8 Billion guardians of the earth?
The writer is the Country Coordinator for CSAYN & has been supported by Generation Unlimited to attend the UN Youth Climate Summit in New York.