One thing that is guaranteed for sustainable living and survival of our children, is the essence of environmental eco-prenuership for sustainable developing. No matter what one’s professional or societal standing is, the children cannot all assume their parents’ posts or positions in the event of them passing on.
As such, the children need life-skills, enabling them to establish productive ventures, which in turn, assist in solving environmental problems in order to create wealth, for their well-being and that of the country.
Eco-prenuership can be simply defined as a deliberate human innovation to expand the supply of natural resources and improve the quality of the environment. In this view, eco-prenuership seeks to address the environment and sustainability of the natural resources, deeply-rooted and anchored in the spirit of heritage, stewardship and dominionship. Although children should enjoy the achievements and successes of their parents as well as derive lots of positives from them, they need to be empowered for a sustainable future, a future in which they know the value of the environment, and how they would add value to their survival, by producing and supplying goods and services, as well as sustainable communication tools without damaging the environment. Children should be guided to establish a reciprocal and interactive relationship with nature, so that it is not the environment that suffers through risks, hazards and disasters, hence it needs to be nurtured, soothed and regenerated as well.
For the children to be useful in future, they need to be coached in creative aspects of adapting to the environment while making it productive. These are life-saving skills, designed to prepare them for future challenges militating against the realisation of food security, environmental sustainability, sustainable agricultural production, industrial development and sustainability, human capital development, patent research, healthy well-being and socio-cultural growth. The decisions we make today as parents regarding the environment, have a strong bearing and influence on the future of our children. In most cases and situations, children have received raw deals in the manner their concerns are factored and situated in the climate change discourse. The authorities today make decisions that affect the environment as if there are no future generations and as if they are the alpha and omegas of the earth. What they fail to realise, first and foremost is that, we have just one earth, and any damage done to the environment, there must be regeneration of the landscapes in order to create anew and restore the natural ecological growth systems.
Having a sustainable environment is one of the children’s rights, in order not to leave them behind, reduce inequalities and preserve the ecosystems. The authorities in charge of the environment and the current adults should be careful about land use, as unsustainable agricultural practices, shady investments, careless handling of the wildlife conservancies and lack of accountability as well as human rights abuses, normally result in undesirable results and consequences. The current land use practices especially in Africa, have degenerated into biodiversity loss and social inequalities with women and children at the receiving end. Children should be taught about the immense economic value of the environment, how to preserve it, adapt and unlock business opportunities which will transform their lives, their communities and their countries’ economies.
Plundering and indiscriminate handling of natural resources through land degradation and deforestation leading to desertification of landscapes, siltation of streams, rivers and dams, unsustainable and uncontrolled illegal mining activities will leave the children with no inheritance at all and the absence of the above natural resources would threaten the children’s rights, future and survival. Adults who participate in eco-freak behaviours like damaging the environment will be denying children the following fundamental needs such as, clean water, food production, poor quality air, biodiversity conservation and a balanced ecosystem. In this regard, the adults and authorities will be guilty of generational nature crimes against humanity.
There also needs to be policy shifts towards initiating empowering small-scale projects aimed at transforming the lives, not only of the current generation, but that of the future generations as well. If children are nurtured appropriately and equipped with the necessary competence, skills, tools, technologies attitudes and behaviours, then they will be better situated to manoeuvre their survival goals and that of the environment through value addition and beneficiation. Policy makers need to exercise self-introspection and come up with local, community and national climate action programmes fostering resilience for climate change adaptations involving children. This is critical in the sense that children would not continue to watch, while the environment is being mortgaged to foreign nations, destroyed as a result of policy gaps and lack of arresting powers. Children may not be powerful, but they have a voice, only that they should not be abused.
Children need more and informed guidance, in order to facilitate and navigate procedural hurdles militating against getting their voices heard and their concerns factored into the planning and budgeting processes. Children-centred approaches and participatory techniques would assist children in realising the benefits of the environment as well as turning available situations into great opportunities for environmental and business growth. Adults need not leave children behind in their climate action strategies by building advocacy, networking and adaptation coalitions to nature actions that promote climate growth. Coming up with organic fertilisers or manure using locally available materials and resources would help reduce the fertilisers being imported and also electricity used to manufacture fertiliser compounds. Protecting the country’s water bodies from siltation would increase water capacity and security for irrigation, households and livestock consumption. Allocating small-sized plots to farmers and youths will help the country to farm sustainably, realise sufficient harvest thereby improving the country’s grain reserves and stop food handouts from foreign lands. Commercialising forest edible insects and fruits will also introduce new business ventures that can add to the food basket of the country, thereby improving the nutritional status of the people. These are some of the business ventures, at a small-scale, that can even attract foreign buyers, investments and transform the socio-economic status of the country. With the amount of sunshine inherent in this country, solar farms can be established and augment electricity shortages.
Children should be guided to be in control and ownership of their lives and nature obligations at a tender age, according to how they visualise them, thereby placing themselves at the heart of sustainable development and become drivers of socio-economic transformation.
As these life strategies are designed, they need to conform to the ethical and child protection issues and standards of doing things to protect children from being abused. This can equip the children with the sustainable voice that can be heard, loud and clear.
Peter Makwanya is a climate change communicator. He writes in his personal capacity and can be contacted on: email@example.com