Youth as Gamechangers in the fight against Climate Change

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A young girl fetches water in rural Djibouti where access to water is a challenge due to the continued drought.
A young girl fetches water in rural Djibouti were access to water is a challenge due to the continued drought.

We are facing an existential crisis the largest mankind has ever faced. Those of you who have ignored this crisis know who you are and are most guilty. It is not the young who are responsible for this strike. We are striking to have a future and we will not stopGreta Thunberg

Writing in The Guardian, Thunberg and others explained that ‘these strikes are happening today… because politicians have failed us. We’ve seen years of negotiations, pathetic deals on climate change, fossil fuel companies being given free rein to carve open our lands, drill beneath our soils and burn away our futures for profit…Politicians have known the truth about climate change and they’ve willingly handed over our future to profiteers whose search for quick cash threatens our very existence’ (Thunberg 2019).

Very few young Djiboutians know that the country is preparing to launch its green economy strategy, the aim of which is to encourage the use of low carbon technologies. This strategy is being developed for the economy’s key sectors, in line with the long-term vision for the country. Djibouti is also in the process of developing a national strategy on climate change, which will draw on both the National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and the National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA), adopted in 2006. All this information must be made available in schools, so that young people act, there is paucity of information as far as climate change education is concerned.

Action against climate change is required now – every day that we postpone it gets us closer to hunger, wars and poverty.

The real question is why we, young people, should have a role in decisions to address climate change and why we should act now? The answers will probably vary depending on the region and for here in North Africa, Djibouti I will add my voice. Djibouti is characterized by a very arid and semi-desert type of climate, which makes it extremely sensitive to climate change-induced drought and water scarcity risks. Regardless of the motivation to raise awareness about climate change, the voices of young people need to be considered because climate change affects our generation. Now, we are the ones who do not make the decision, but the most affected. Action against climate change is required now – every day that we postpone it gets us closer to hunger, wars and poverty. Why you ask? All Sustainable Development Goals are interconnected, and if we fail to act on one of them, all of them will fail.

Some might ask, is climate education an unnecessary deviation from the traditional approach to climate solutions? Definitely not. Education about climate change and possible actions that can be taken to prevent it are fundamental to actualizing a sustainable future. It ensures that any effort to combat climate change will last. Why is recycling still not existing in many schools in Djibouti? Why is greywater not recycled in many of the Djibouti public institutions? Lack of climate education. Without knowledge and awareness, even the most advanced infrastructure will not succeed. Climate change will have impacts on the Djibouti marine and terrestrial ecosystems.

Djibouti is prone to many natural hazards, including multi-annual droughts, frequent flash floods, frequent earthquakes, volcanism and fires fueled by droughts.  Sea level rise represents a great threat to Republic of Djibouti, particularly in Djibouti town where around 70% of the population is concentrated. All this gives me a lot of anxiety as a young person and that’s why I am calling for mobilization of young people in Djibouti to do whatever we can to mitigate the effects of climate change.

 

Aicha Mohamed is  a volunteer with the Ministry of Youths and Sports. At the Ministry she helps with identifying other young people with great interest in climate change and the preservation of the environment. She hopes that she will play a big role in minimizing the climate change effects on Djibouti's population

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