Youths in Climate Hub Charged to Evolve Realistic, Implementable Ideas

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Bennett Oghifo

The Federal Ministry of Environment in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) recently hosted a regional Youth Climate Incubation Hub for South-South zone, where 70 participants drawn from Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, and Rivers States were tasked to evolve ideas on climate change actions that were creative and at the same time specific, measurable, achievable, bankable, realistic and time bound.

They were also charged to come up with ideas that could be harnessed, developed and built from concept stage to actual implementation.

This was the first of six hubs planned for the nation’s geo-political zones and was held at the Visa Karena Hotel in Port Harcourt. The hub was held to further strengthen Nigeria’s position as a member country of the United Nations’ Youth Engagement and Public Mobilization track at the Climate Action Summit in September.

The two-day event was facilitated by Health of the Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), an ecological think-tank and advocacy organisation.

Director of HOMEF, Nnimmo Bassey, an Environmental Justice Advocate, underscored the importance of the Youth Roundtable on Climate Action, which he said was to unlock youth innovativeness in Nigeria’s climate action, believing that “young people have the brightest ideas for solving problems of climate change in Nigeria.”

A Senior Scientific Officer at the Department of Climate Change, Federal Ministry of Environment, Sa’adatu Gambo stressed the importance of the meeting to global concern on the impact of climate change in developing countries, including Nigeria.

She said the Department of Climate Change is the country’s focal point for the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and that the department is always eager and ready to welcome creative ideas from young people on how to solve problems of climate change which has become a serious global threat.

Rising from the first Climate Hub, participants observed, in a communiqué, that Issues of climate change call for emergency responses in Nigeria and that proactive measures must be put in place by the government to tackle them,

They said the non-implementation of extant environmental laws and policies continue to serve as a major setback in the fight for a safe climate in Nigeria; there is a major need to create more awareness among the Nigeria citizenry; financial investment and transfer of technology to build human capacity and groom basic ideas that would mitigate climate crises in Nigeria was urgently needed.

After series of brain storming and Focused Group Discussions (FGD) among all participants, a number of innovative ideas were strongly recommended by the various South-South States that attended the Regional Youth Climate Incubation Hub in Port Harcourt.

Some of the ideas included: Eco-friendly technological solutions, including Apps to map vulnerable and non-vulnerable areas to climate change impact, adding that solar panels should be more affordable for the people.

They recommended mangrove reclamation and tree planting especially indigenous and economic crops; Biogas: generating biogas from household biodegradable waste and bio-digester.

They said effort should be made on recycling as regards plastic bottle collection and reuse, conversion to other products and also waste segregation and separation; Education and Environmental Literacy: Establish environmental clubs and advocacy for target groups and also creating certain social documentaries in local languages on climate change; Amplification of government action on climate change policy implementations, including by stopping gas flaring and converting the emitted gas instead.

The recommended massive and creative advocacy campaigns on the impact of climate change; inclusion of climate change education in our curriculum at the various levels of learning in Nigeria; amplification of Youth voices and harnessing their creative ideas on climate change, and strengthening of existing structures to integrate women and marginalised groups’ participation in all levels in climate action in the country.

It was also resolved that Climate Change Desk Officers at both Federal and State Environmental ministries in Nigeria should ensure that participants of this Youth Climate Hub are further engaged on climate change issues.

The climate hub ended with remarks made by Dr Peter Tarfa, Director, Department of Climate Change and Mr Muyiwa Odele of the United Nations Development Programme. They both congratulated the youths for their participation in the hub and assured them that their contributions were very valuable.

Dr Tarfa urged the youths to remain engaged in taking climate actions and assured them that the Federal Government is determined to keep a space for ideas from youths to be mobilised for climate action that would address the challenges faced by Nigeria, as well as the global community and to also facilitate the achievements of Nigeria’s NDC targets to the Paris Agreement.

A total of 20 ideas were pitched by the six states in the South-South Zone and three were selected for consideration at the national level.

Sixty youths (25 females and 35 males) were selected to participate in the Hub and at the end of the day, the following participants were selected to represent the South-South Zone at the forthcoming National Youth Climate Hub to be held in Abuja with youths from other Zones: Naona USOROH; Felix Frisya Paul; Berena Aderi Victoria; Goodluck Ayebanoa Monday; Ogbu Sylvester; Magdalene Ime Idiang; Oviru A. Ogghenerumie; Faith Omoregie; Stephanie Ihilonsen Ohumu; Odili Michael Authority; Una Dominica; and Nzewi Chukwudubem Tonna.