Young people can make environmental conservation attainable

Ms Sumaiya Harunany, an environmental activist from Mombasa and the Co-Founder of Blue Earth, planting a seedling during a mangrove planting exercise that was organised by Kenya Forest Service (KFS), Kenya Forest Research Institute (KEFRI) and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) on October 12, 2021 at Amani Jipange Conservation Site. Harunany and her Co-Founder Mahmoud Salim represented Blue Earth, an organisation whose main aim is to spearhead a campaign that will see restoration of coastlines which are prone to flooding due to human activities like cutting of mangroves for infrastructure development. PHOTO/Courtesy.

Climate change is here, and its impact intensifies overtime.

That literally means that children and young people of today and the next generations will face the most horrific and devastating anger of the mistreated and recklessly employed earth resources.

It is unforgotten how as human beings we have cardinal authority and power over creation; including natural and artificial resources to satisfy our rather insatiable needs.

Ironically, on the other hand, it is often forgotten that the manner of harnessing the resources should be conventional!

One that allows sustained healthier, safer, secure and productive human life and the environment.

There are a number of contemporary dreadful occurrences across the world that should prove to our generation that there will be no sustained life of humans, animals, birds, plants and other features if we don’t rethink our unconventional use of resources.

If few will be there, they will be harmful or rebellious to human life and livelihood.

To avid fanatic ‘debaters’, the former statement is debatable; agreeable or disagreeable, there will be no room for us to debate with climate change effects. We’ll only be subdued.

Reading and watching, reports overly show how reckless human activities including uncontrolled deforestation, pollution, poaching, wetland reclamation among other activities are on the rise.

Consequently, millions of people in most parts of the world are extremely high risk of experiencing violent and regular floods, hailstorms, hurricanes, rising water levels and persistent droughts.

Some numerical highlights according to The World Counts web and CEO World Magazine 2019 foretell of a time bomb that may explode with generations.

Why should young people be on standby?

Mr. Brian Onenchan (right) and a group of young people planting an organic avocado tree during the demonstration of Urban Backyard Farming, as part of the BICKOSA COVID-19 Relief Drive 2020 at Bishop Cipriano Kihangire SSS Staff Quarters on August 22, 2020. Mr. Onenchan is an Architectural Technician and Urban Backyard Farmer, and iElevate ambassador for Saving Earth Africa (SEA). The youth are key movers to stop the extinction of organic fruit trees. PHOTO/Frank Baguma.

Over 700 children under 5 years die from diarrhea linked to inadequate and contaminated water.

Isn’t it worrying that to our generation that exacerbation of water-stress-water conflicts may substitute the wave of political and civil conflicts?

It has been shown that by 2040, 1 in 4 children will live in areas with extreme water stress!

Worse still, environmental contamination continues to make young people and children more susceptible to diseases like cholera, malaria, diarrhea among et cetera.

Many cases can be sited from allover the world where former friendly lakes and rivers are ruthlessly swallowing lives, villages, eating away shores and banks, withering crops, displacement, and relocation of people with the associated bottlenecks and our people succumbing to hunger!

Such absurdity is perilous and frustrating; but real.

With skyrocketing frequency in change of weather patterns characterized by haphazard droughts alternating with floods culminating into poor harvests and extinction of animals to rising food prices, to food insecurity and the curve continues.

Eventually, the law of demand and supply applies.

This is more likely to catch up with the coming generations.

“You know, we are still young and limited in a number of issues to know, speak and act against environmental degradation…” An eloquent young leader said at a Youth Summit.

The statement got me thinking twice about our role as young people in salvaging the plight.

Much as I respect his opinion, I resent such youthful mindset, especially about the future to which young people are chief custodians.

To see a better change, young people all over the world need to charismatically reassume the vantage, use every space; be it virtual or physical to know, speak and act against the risks and realities of climate change.

Why? This is because we see, touch, hear and feel the perilous effects in our daily lives.

More so, it is evident that the space to responsibly and responsively react to the plight is available or can be created.

If we must use advocacy as a talisman in this noble pursuit, focus on what we have at our disposal now can lead to other novel inventions and innovations.

For instance, can we leverage education or school spaces, the growing technology and digitalization, the expressly overcrowded social media sites, performing arts like poetry, music, dance and drama.

Mr. Makero Peter, an iElevate ambassador for Saving Earth Africa (SEA) participating in the planting trees exercise at the degraded Kaazi Natural Forest, Busabala, on May 8, 2021. The event was organised by Fairventures Uganda. PHOTO/Courtesy.

In addition, we can harness the space, abilities and skills at hand to speak Up and make a lasting contribution to this cause.

Away from being passive victims, there are phenomenal Inspirational movements by young people that can potentially catalyse and challenge the rest of the world.

The 15-year old Greta Thunberg, a Swedish environmental activist, in 2018 sparked a students’ global movement of school age students demanding greater action from governments to combat climate change.

Further still, through education and curriculum policies, environment related content, activities and campaigns can be integrated to encourage Safe green Spaces, planting of trees, recycling plans that can as well be a source of livelihood for young people and communities.

Maryhill High School, Gayaza High School are some of the model schools effecting the Ministry of Education directive (14th October, 2018) on the use of Polythene bags and plastics in schools (The Emerald Magazine 2019).

Young people can then cascade the knowledge, skills and activities to a wider community.

Alluding to the late Michael Jackson’s song “Heal the world”, we can only make this world a better place for us and generations to come if we responsibly assume the mantle and be at the forefront of securing the apparently threatened future.

Remember, mother earth is our only refuge.

Therefore, it is more about those who will need it tomorrow that should be front-liners in knowing, speaking and acting to have a safer, secure and healthier environment where human life will progressively be sustained for countless centuries.

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ENVIRONMENT: Communities warned against encroaching forests

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Mr. Cohens is teacher trainee, debate and speech coach. He writes from Kampala, Uganda. Contact:



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