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Sunday, May 19, 2024

How Nigeria-based NGO is Mobilising School Children for Climate Action

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By Hameed Muritala

 

There is no gainsaying the fact that human-induced climate change continues to cause huge disruption in nature, leading to catastrophic effects on our planet and wellbeing. The dire consequences of global climate crisis such as intense heat waves, droughts, floods and other forms of extreme weather conditions are happening rapidly and exposing millions of vulnerable people around the world to food and water insecurity.

Consequently, pushing for climate justice should be seen as a responsibility of everybody – including young school children – in order to ensure that we all can be guaranteed a safer planet to live in. In their own little way, children can also take or demand actions for protection of the environment.  It is, therefore, essential to teach kids and teenagers what Climate Change means, its consequences, how we humans are contributing to it, and actions that can be taken to protect the environment.

It is in the light of this that a non-governmental organization, Webfala Digital Skills for all Initiative, WDSFAI, on Thursday, organised a Climate Justice Summit in Kwara State, North Central Nigeria, to educate school students on the consequences of global climate crisis and call for accelerated actions to curb its attendant consequences.

A cross-section of participants at the climate justice training.

Held at the auditorium basement of the University of Ilorin, the summit was sponsored by The Do School, Germany as part of its efforts to drive global positive change. Different speakers at the summit took turns to educate the students on the causes of climate change, its effects and actions to be taken to curb the menace.

In his lecture, a climate justice activist and delegate to the COP 26 held in November, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland, Abideen Olasupo, warned that the drastic effects of climate change may soon cause the earth to be unsafe for humans and animals to live in.

The climate change activist, therefore, noted that in line with Goal 13 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), urgent actions must be taken in due course to combat climate change and its attendant effects, which he said, pose great danger to human wellbeing.

He urged the students to take actions that promote a friendly ecosystem and to also continue to raise awareness on climate change among their colleagues, friends and family members.

“To tackle climate change, we must stop deforestation and embrace sustainable afforestation. Let us tell our people at home to stop cutting down trees to make firewood. It is a bad habit that must be stopped as it poses a threat to our environment,” Olasupo added.

On her part, Zainab Yaqub who is a doctoral student of Chemical Engineering at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, explained that the large amount of carbon dioxide humans put into the air through vehicles, power plants, telecommunication masts, airplanes, factories, among others, causes damage to the environment.

She highlighted the effects of climate change to include flooding, wildfires, intense droughts, food and water insecurity, declining biodiversity, melting polar ice, catastrophic storms and other forms of extreme weather conditions.

Speaking on actions that can be taken to curb the negative impacts of the climate crisis in our local communities, Zainab, whose research work focuses on conversion of waste-to-energy technologies, called for massive reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, recycling of waste products and creation of green spaces through planting of trees and flowers. According to her, trees will absorb the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere through human activities and convert it into oxygen.

Earlier in her welcome address, the Founder/Executive Director of WDSFAI, Nafisat Bakare, said “the Climate Justice Summit was aimed at raising consciousness towards developing environmentally friendly characters among the young adults, creating the ripple effect for the creation of quality life and environment

“At the end of the training, the school students will be certified as Climate Justice Ambassadors and become members of a worldwide network of committed children taking actions to combat climate change.

“As climate justice ambassadors, the students will create awareness about climate issues among their colleagues, peers and family members, and will also implement actions to mitigate the effect of the climate crisis in their various communities.”

Beyond the training exercise, the organization also visits several schools in Ilorin to spread the gospel of climate justice. At each of the school, the organization lectures children on climate crisis and its terrible impacts on the environment, and also encourages them to take actions to protect the environment; actions as simple as planting trees in their environment and encouraging their peers and parents to do same.

In furtherance of its commitment to a clean and safer environment, Webfala Digital Skills for all Initiative also donates recycling bins to schools in Ilorin Metropolis. The bins were donated to the schools to enable proper disposal of used items that can be upcycled or recycled, and also fetch money for the schools.

Executive Director of WDSFAI in a group picture with students of Tanke school

“The idea is to get students and staff of these schools to dispose used items in the bins, particularly plastics and cans that can be recycled. The school will sell the items to recycling companies and can use the proceeds to get some materials that can be used by the students.

“As responsible residents, we must always make conscious efforts to keep our environment safe and contribute positively towards reducing the effects of climate change in our different communities. That is why we have donated these recycling bins to schools to ensure proper waste management,” the organization founder said.

The efforts of WDSFAI in mobilizing school children for climate justice are similar to what Plant-for-the-Planet, a global initiative, has been doing for years. Founded in 2007 by Felix Finkbeiner, the organization educate children on climate issues and also encourages them to plant trees. Planting trees is essential in the fight against climate crisis as trees can help in keeping temperature rise below 1.5°C. Through this campaign, children are not only planting trees around the world, they are also advocating climate justice and fighting for the protection of their future and future generations.

It is necessary for all of us, including young children, to take push for climate justice and actions to protect the environment. As the late Kenyan Nobel Peace Prize recipient and environmental activist, Wangari Maathai noted, “It is the little things citizens do. That’s what make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.” In our separate capacities, let us continue to take actions no matter how little, to safeguard our planet.

 

 

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