CLIMATE change compatible strategies in planning and investment should place children at the heart of all processes. Climate change has been described as a cancer or HIV and Aids of the environment. In that regard, it has posed some obstacles and mind-shattering gaps to policy planners and development practitioners.
Guest column: Peter Makwanya
Although climate change affects all nations, poor countries will bear the brunt, especially sub-Saharan Africa, because of lack of clear collective efforts and working strategies.
Their reliance on local ecological resources, coupled with existing stresses on water and health, well-being as well as scarce financial, institutional and human resources, leave them most vulnerable and ill-equipped to adapt to the impact of climate change.
Countries in the Sadc region may not be able to realise targets for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), thereby, retarding progress towards environmental sustainability and resilience.
What might have gone wrong with countries in Sadc is a major question This is the question that would give direction to all sporadic and somewhat disjointed efforts in the region.
Therefore, these countries need to revisit their policy planning frameworks and consider procedural planning gaps, one of which is their failure to seriously factor in the participation of children and young people in environmental governance.
Across Africa, youths are seen as a “lost generation” − frustrated, excluded and marginalised from decision-making processes.
Day in day out, young people in Africa are challenging the norms and structures that exclude them, while only seeking to abuse their conscience and participation in political rather than climate issues.
The children and the youths are not aware how they can sustainably engage with the State and demand accountability, without receiving a backlash.
The rights of children to participate in decisions regarding climate change issues need to be enhanced.
They need to be made a core part of community-based initiatives through regional engagements and dialogue.
Youths in particular and tertiary students need to be introduced to the fertile area of research, which is the climate change community of practice, so that as regional interactants they will share notes and chat the way forward.
Climate change is a fertile area for research, which has been largely ignored by the adults, hence the youths can come up with patents in this regard.
Whatever role the children play in their communities, it should be a child-centred approach anchored on the convention on the rights of the child.
Putting children at the heart of conservation activities would be a way of acknowledging their participatory efforts through drama, games, poetry and music.
Children should be placed at the focal point as drivers of change. The above named child participatory methodologies will be done to form the critical party of this study.
It would be a tremendous form of ground-breaking initiatives for the children and youths from the Sadc region to hold a guided regional conference where they would share ideas, present papers, posters and other artistic initiatives in order to enhance climate solution strategies from their own points of view.
Their resolutions would be compiled into a regional booklet which would also act as a reference guide for climate development initiatives that can place the region on the international map.
These would also be used to complement existing national policies and also contribute to platforms like Sadc youth parliamentary forum on climate change development.
By so doing, Sadc youths need to be taught positive and sustainable environmental methods that do not contribute to the destruction of the environment.
The youths also need to engage in the language use activities which would promote environmental networking and collaborative efforts, which contribute to shaping the kind of sustainable future that they desire. It is the duty of adults in the Sadc region to nurture climate growth among its young citizens as they are future leaders.
Above everything else, we need to come up with a Sadc family of climate heroes and environmental stewards that would be the envy of many, in the region, continent and beyond.
These are sustainable behaviours that we need our youths to identify with in order to be pace setters in building sustainable strategies.
Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his capacity and can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org