The YALI Network recently came together with the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) Network for a Facebook virtual town hall on understanding climate change and the role green entrepreneurs and communities play in mitigating climate change.
Did you miss the Greener Together Town Hall? Watch the event on Facebook. Check out the Q&A below, where climate and food security expert Abiola Peter Adetunji of Nigeria answers YALI Network member’s questions. The 2019 Mandela Washington Fellow alum’s bio is available here.
Greener Together Town Hall Q&A:
Editor’s Note: The following questions and responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Question from Rahma of Tanzania: “How do we raise climate change adaptation and mitigation awareness to our communities?”
Answer from Abiola: The first step is to get everyone to accept that climate change is real and understand the gravity of its threat. The more one understands the climate crisis, the better their response will be to proposed adaptation and mitigation measures. Having ensured that, we can then proceed to effective adaptation and mitigation awareness strategies.
- The strategies you propose to your local audience must be practicable and relevant to their socio-economic and cultural circumstances. Providing examples of strategies that have worked in other similar locations are helpful and the supporting scientific data and facts are also beneficial.
- An important and sensitive campaign like this must not be approached in a generalized manner, even though we all know it’s a global issue. [A generalized approach] might make people believe the issue is not relevant to them. Bring it home to your local audience. For instance, you might want to refer to present local temperatures, flooding, weather, and rainfall patterns compared to 30 years ago. Don’t forget to mention the disrupted planting and harvesting calendar, as most folks find that easier to relate to.
- Ensure there is obvious evidence of climate change in your local community that everyone can acknowledge and be motivated to address.
Question from Amarachi of Nigeria: “I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and I want to get involved in fighting climate change. How can I take action as a food and nutrition expert?”
Answer from Abiola: Discussing quality nutrition offers an excellent platform to discuss climate change because the quality and quantity of foods we all eat are greatly affected by the climate, perhaps more severely than any other known factor.
- I’d advise you to learn how climate change impacts food systems through altered agro-climatic conditions and natural disasters and find ways to break the knowledge down into digestible bits that anyone can comprehend.
- You need to gather information on the tools and resources available online and offline (those from YALI Network will be of tremendous help) for teaching this subject as a necessary aid. Reach out to individuals or organizations with the same or similar objectives and ask to use their resources.
Question from Bonaventure of Burundi: “What is the specific role that youth can play in bringing a sustainable solution to climate change?”
Answer from Abiola: Young people are socially active and productive, especially in Africa, where they account for a high percentage of the total population. As a result, they are also more prone to be vulnerable to climate change.
Youth have unique roles as contributors to climate action:
- Serve as peer educators in community outreach events
- Join, starte, and actively drive social action movements on climate change advocacy
- Leverage digital and social media to spread the climate action messages
- Resist and correct disinformation
- Participate in green initiatives that include engaging in environmentally friendly activities and waste recycling
Question from Lossie of Kenya: I am leading a youth-led community-based organization in Sierra Leone. It is very difficult for youth organizations in Sierra Leone to get funding to implement projects. How can such organizations get flexible funding to embark on climate change projects and events that can yield dividends for protecting our environment?
Answer from Abiola: It’s true that getting local funding for your NGO activities on fighting climate change may appear more difficult than getting it for other social impact objectives.
- I’d advise you to thoroughly research organizations that award grants for social impact projects with goals and values similar to yours, then attend their physical programs, browse their websites and actively follow them on social media.
- Check the local chapters of some United Nations agencies like UNDP, World Food Program, and FAO, in addition to development agencies like USAID and DFID. Also, regularly visit websites that publish grants generally like opportunitiesforafricans.com, opportunitiesforyouth.org, opportunitydesk.org, youthop.com.
I have applied for a number of grants and won four, including those from the World Bank Growth and Employment Project (2016) and World Connect (2019). The latter recognizes YALI as one of the key organizations whose members it seeks as potential partners for its funding activities in Africa. So, I highly recommend them. It may be daunting but don’t quit trying.
Question from Japhet from Belgium: How are we going to make the involvement of African communities sync with these conversations [on climate change] when people are busy dealing with hunger, famine and floods?
Answer from Abiola: The present suffering from environmental challenges and disasters does not necessarily constitute a distraction from the subject [of climate change]. If well perceived and articulated, it could make a compelling motivator to get most people on board.
The correct understanding of the issue and what is at stake is at the heart of it all. It would even be very ingenious to find ways to assist in helping them integrate climate-change-themed activities into their existing community programs [for famines and natural disasters] that have already gained prominence over the years.
Question from the YALI and YLAI Network Moderators: What we know is that it’s not too late. Why is it essential for cross-regional dialogue to take place about climate change and sustainability?
Answer from Abiola: No single region of the world can successfully fight climate change alone. No matter their level of culpability, whether low-emitting countries, like many African countries, that are emitting less than one ton per capita or high-emitting like most developed nations emitting over ten tons of greenhouse gasses per capita.
Cross-regional dialogue is necessary because
- It will lead to enforceable global agreements and blueprints for action that can guarantee collective low emissions over time, as with most United Nations Climate Change Conferences, including the most recent one, referred to as COP26.
- It helps bring the issue to the global stage and provides opportunities for diverse professionals (scientists, diplomats, politicians, and activists) to brainstorm solutions.
- These dialogues will contribute significantly to new discoveries and monumental achievements needed in this collective fight. Such as the high-profile global research institutions like the Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change.
- These dialogues will help provide collective support to poor, vulnerable countries and regions that are massively hit by climate disasters and need special interventions.