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Online learning spurs offline climate action
February 11, 2016

Schoolchildren cheer and hold up a banner (Courtesy Aishat Hussain-Agberemi)
(Courtesy Aishat Hussain-Agberemi)

How do you transform online energy into offline action? It helps to have an important subject and an engaged network of community leaders.

The YALI Network is part of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), an effort by President Obama to encourage young African adults to become active in business, community organizing and public management.

The network, with its 200,000 members across sub-Saharan Africa, makes online resources available to young Africans who want to make positive change in their communities and countries.

At the end of November, with the hashtag #YALIGoesGreen, the network began a campaign that bridged online enthusiasm and on-the-ground action. The campaign challenged YALI Network members to share their stories on the YALI Network Facebook page, Twitter, and social media of how climate change affects their communities and to earn a certificate with the three-part YALI Network Online Course “Understanding Climate Change.”

Things really got interesting with the challenge to become a “Green Champion” by hosting a #YALILearns event using the course’s discussion and activity guide. Throughout December, network members all over sub-Saharan Africa sent feedback and pictures of events they hosted in their communities and schools.

David Mboko Mavinga introduced 35 students at Notre Dame de la Providence secondary school in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, to the science of climate change and discussed with them everyday ideas for taking action. The event was important, Mavinga said, “because we speak about climate change on the radio, the television and in newspapers, but very few people speak about it in daily life.”

In Accra, Ghana, Temitope Amujo offered an event he called “Sustainable Climate Actions: From Reactions to Actions” for a gathering of 24 local professionals just before the Paris climate summit at the start of December.

By the end of January, the YALI Network reported over-the-top results, having turned an important online discussion into real action.