There is a famous statement by Malcolm X, “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare today.” This statement is especially true for the ACT Alliance Youth CoP, as education and capacity building was a recurring theme in the discourse and dialogues on the third day of the 2021 ACT Electronic General Assembly. Fernanda Zúñiga, a young climate activist with LWF said, “mobilizing young people to be involved and empowering them to participate in negotiations and creation of policy will ensure knowledge is gained by listening and retained by practising.”
Are there opportunities for youth In climate justice? The youth are especially excited by the commitment of Matias Söderberg, co-chair of the ACT Climate Justice Reference Group, who said the group is committed to work with the youth. This is a good place to begin; creating a network which will provide a platform for learning, exchanging ideas and participating. A good suggestion was brought forth to establish a programme in the ACT secretariat to involve the youth and member organizations in Climate Justice to drive this agenda and Climate Justice advocacy.
Marcelo Leites of WCSF said, “There is a need for a radical change, because young people are not only the future but the present.” As ACT identifies the opportunities to involve youth, “We have to establish that there is no climate justice without social justice” he said, “because young people are the most impacted by climate change effects and many times they are left with no dignity.”
It is a win that the youth are already doing the basics, “Planting trees, saving water, restoring water bodies and taking personal responsibilities to preserve and restore the environment.” It is a first step of many towards the change we want for planet Earth.
There come moments in every generation, when the Lord reintroduces Himself to a generation and amplifies His message (William McDowell). For Climate Action, the moment is now. The youth are awake and aware of the need to be in the frontline and they will be instrumental, but only if guided and supported to channel their energy wisely.
In the 2021 assembly, we have laid the foundation through the intergenerational dialogues. Let it advance to intergenerational action with those that went before us mentoring us, imparting knowledge and creating space for youth on the boards, reference groups and communities of practice to strengthen youth engagement and build youth synergy. In Kenya, we say, “Umoja ni nguvu, utengano ni udhaifu,” which means, coming together as individuals, strengthens us to achieve what we set out to do. Together we can make climate justice a reality!
Irene Sebastian-Waweru. Youth Volunteer with Anglican Development Services a member of ACT Alliance Kenya Forum. Currently co-chair ACT Alliance Kenya Forum and ACT Africa Youth CoPs.