Young people are most affected by long-term consequences of climate change; they will live with its environmental, social and economic impacts for years.
Their involvement in climate action is essential for its long-term success. Their engagement through unique environmental conservation perspectives, energy, creativity, innovations, and commitment make them crucial in driving positive change and inspiring climate action.
Collectively, young people can contribute to building a global movement for positive environmental sustainability, thus driving climate action by embracing sustainable practices in their daily lives through recycling, reducing waste, and prioritising environmental sustainability at an individual level.
Young people can join or initiate local community projects focused on environmental conservation, tree planting, or waste reduction.
As a young environmentalist, my involvement in several community service projects in Rotaract and Rotary has provided a meaningful way to contribute my expertise and passion.
In 2023, through the Eco-schools project that I have spearheaded under Green Rotaract concept District 9212, we have worked with 21 schools such as Ruiru Primary School, Embakasi Girls, Cathyga Education Center, Bar Kurumba Sec school, Atemo Primary, Murera primary, Muthurwa Primary School, Lusi Primary School, Ruiru Secondary, Thika Primary School, Chania Boys, Gatumaini Primary school, Kibos particular School among others in environmental-related projects and planted and grown 15,000 trees, carried out environmental education and climate literacy projects, set up tree nurseries, trained urban farming, and set up kitchen and vertical gardens reaching to over 20,000 learners.
I have also worked closely with communities on restoration projects to enhance sustainability. This has been achieved through meaningful community engagement in restoration initiatives, for example, “Save Ngong Hills. We work closely with the Green Club community-based organisation in Ngong area and adopted a section of the forest.
Many young people are concerned about the impact of climate change on the planet and future generations. They recognise it as a pressing and urgent issue that requires immediate attention. However, some are ignorant and reluctant to act.
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But it is also commendable that many young people actively engage in climate activism and advocacy. There are several youth-led initiatives and movements worldwide championing climate action; for example, within our District, we have The Green Rotaract Concept D9212, where I am the immediate past chairperson and currently advisor to the board; Fridays for Future International (Fridays for Future Kenya), where I also serve as one of the community mobilisers.
Kenya is experiencing the impacts of climate change across various sectors; for example, we are vulnerable to droughts, which have become more frequent and intense. The most affected region is North Eastern region. In the last two years, Kenya lost close to 2.5 million head of livestock and several others in the drylands due to lack of pasture and water.
There have also been changes in precipitation patterns, and increased temperatures have led to altered growing seasons and reduced agricultural productivity.
Extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts, have damaged crops and disrupted the food supply chain, affecting the livelihoods of most Kenyans and the economy.
Rotary International believes in the transformative power of youth to shape the environmental future. Rotary’s participation in COP28 underscores its broader dedication to environmental sustainability and highlights the critical role of younger generations in addressing challenges of climate change.
I anticipate representing Rotary International at COP28, sharing the critical role Rotary plays in climate action, and following through the discussions on different thematic areas. The meetings should be followed by bold moves and not promises and talks. I intend to make the most out of COP28 by advocating for meaningful youth inclusion in decision-making processes and negotiations related to climate change.
-The writer is an environmentalist and a young Rotary International volunteer