African Youth: A Cry of Distress

Climate change is the resultant process of decades of greenhouses gases released into the Earth’s atmosphere though anthropogenic activities.  This process, still being understood by the world’s top climate scientists, has been linked to tangible impacts on the natural environment and people of all backgrounds, with a disproportionally greater impact on the most vulnerable people. However, in recent times there has been a global outcry by the world’s youth. Youth from different parts of the world, have formed movements that cross-political borders to voice their perspectives: “we will be the generation most impacted by climate change.”

This youth movement has been gaining more traction every year as young people realise that the actions of those in power now, have a direct impact on their future. This global movement has been noted to be growing exceptionally fast in Africa. The African continent is one of the largest continents on Earth, with the largest proportion of the population being youth, 70%. Africa consists of mostly developing nations that consume the smallest proportion of annual global energy generation and emit a significantly lower tCO2e then other developed countries.

The natural resources that are within Africa are valuable and are often exploited by other countries. Illegal mining of lithium in the Democratic Republic of Congo, drilling of oil in the Niger delta and several African countries importing waste (plastic and toxic materials) from developed countries. Although, these natural  resources are incredibly valuable and will be used to manufacture future technologies to mitigate climate change it is also these processes that strips Africa of all resources and leave its people in an impoverished state unable to escape the poverty cycle. War torn and now desolate some African countries are worse off after the foreign “investment” promised by the global north.

Sustainability, a term coined in the Brundtland report as “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” goes hand-in-hand with combating climate change. Therefore, there needs to be an alignment among all nations to work together to solve the problem of climate change by applying the principles of sustainability at all levels. Every year, for the last 26 years world leaders and decisions makers have gathered at the revered COP event. An event that brings with it great promise for a future of a habitable planet as negotiations between the world’s most powerful nations take place, behind closed doors.

These negotiations affect everyone and more especially affect the youth, therefore, Africa should be a key stakeholder in these engagements. African youth suffer and live the consequences of the decisions made at the highest level. African leaders often making the headlines for scandals and ruthless corruption, plundering millions of dollars and leaving entire nations unfed and unshielded from the elements. These leaders were once pure hearted and may have even fought for the independence of their country. South Africa a prime example of this, a once strong economic powerhouse famed for defeating apartheid and establishing an excellent democracy, has been brought to its knees by an energy crises and political instability resulting in the highest youth unemployment rate in the world. The country has taken away opportunities from the next generation, who must also shoulder the burden of climate change, as well as, rebuilding a country. Greed and lust for power corrupts the very best, and compromises the ability to provide for the needs of future generations.

Youth intrinsically have an untainted, unbiased and uncorrupted perspective of what the fight against climate change should be. The views and ideas upheld by youth represent sustainability for all, at its core. It is these perceptions that give rise to the rivalry between youth and current world leaders. While world leaders of current see the world as it is, youth see the world as it can be, as it should be. It is this eternal optimism that drives the youth everyday through a relentless, tireless unending fight for sustainability.

There is no nation or person immune to climate change.  "Rain does not fall on one roof alone.” | An African Proverb

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Africa is a continent in continuous transformation, with a sustained economic and population growth, a fast-paced urbanization and a young generation of talents who is leading its business revolution. This transformation requires energy and will require it even more in the next decades.
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