UGANDA AND VISION 2040 – THE ROLE OF YOUTH IN ADVOCATING FOR ACTION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE

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By Roger Tulyahabwe

Should we sit on our backs and wait for the government to implement vision 2040?

Who is responsible for the action against climate change?

Under the aspirations in Chapter 2 of the Uganda vision 2040, paragraph (f) provides that “Ugandans desire a green economy and clean environment where the ecosystem is sustainably managed and the livability of the urban systems greatly improved.” The realization of this aspiration will, however not come by itself. It requires the partnerships of both the private and the public sector. The progression of this amalgamation will promisingly limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above the pre-industrial levels as per the Paris agreement. The ability to adapt, mitigate, and reduce carbon emissions will be decisive to preserve the world, and Uganda in particular, for future generations.

It should be noted that sustainable development, as promised in Uganda Vision 2040, is about using resources to meet human needs while preserving the environment. For several decades, however, development has concentrated on the improvement and advancement of economic, social, cultural, and political conditions, and less on preserving the environment. This has resulted in climate quagmire and global warming plus other adverse environmental conditions associated with climate change.

To this end, according to The Justice, Law and Order Sector in Uganda’s Vision 2040, biodiversity is “facing increasing challenges including: rapid deterioration of the quantity and quality of the natural resource base, mainly due to increased pressure from high population growth and economic activities”. There has been poor disposal of solid and liquid waste from industries and human settlements among others. All this is in addition to the electronic waste, radioactive waste, plastics and polythene materials, industrial waste and medical waste to the traditional organic waste, noise pollution, invasive alien species, etcetera, which “has led to loss of biodiversity and environmental degradation in general.”

In the quest to restore hope for the Uganda Vision 2040, all hands must be on deck. In as much as the government should do its part to implement and fulfill the provisions of Article 39 of the Constitution of Uganda, it is imperative that every individual play their part to achieve the aspirations of the 2040 vision. Failure to do so may bring about the extinction of our biodiversity, thereby posing a threat to human life, and of course suffering the agony of climate change. With this in view, I beckon fellow youth; who are leaders of today and tomorrow, to join hands with the government of Uganda to make our dear country habitable for us and for future generations to come.

The role of youth in advocacy for action against climate change

In a bid to fully unleash young people’s potential, especially in respect of issues threatening their future, youth should have the skills and values required for their active participation in the decisions shaping their survival. They should equally be inspired to understand the imperatives of building peaceful and inclusive societies for a safer and more sustainable future.

As John F. Kennedy said, “The present prospects of its youth can directly measure the future promise of any nation, and this world demands the qualities of youth: not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, and youths of appetite for adventure over the love of ease.” To this end, giving young people a place in decision-making builds a broader base of citizen involvement and creates stronger, more inclusive communities.

The Managing Director of Global Platform Uganda, Mr. Primus Bahigi at the opening of the 5th National Inter-University Creative Arts Expo and Debate Championship, quoted that, “Our challenges today, will not be solved by any person but ourselves. We should imagine the life and world we and our children want to live in and then begin to work and walk towards it”. The gesture in this quotation means that the future of this world is in the hands of the youths, and so is the need to act against climate change, because it is one of the most critical global challenges today.

Current events have unequivocally demonstrated our growing helplessness to climate change whose impacts ranges from the landslides in Bududa to the frequent episodes of famine around the region. Climate Change is widely recognized today as the most significant environmental challenge, threatening to affect all spheres of our lives, and will eventually leave behind severe catastrophic effects if not dealt with promptly.

Inter-generational collaborations is required

However, there has to be an inter-generational collaboration for the youths to be able to carry on with nature’s call. The older generation has to allow change to happen at the speed of trust and apply respect and recognition in both directions. An exchange of knowledge and expertise can combat inequitable power-dynamics of ‘ageism’ and ‘credentialism’ that often lead to competing, co-opting, or providing inconsistent funding to successful youth work.

During the International Youth Day 2008, Ban Ki-moon (the then Secretary-General of the United Nations) said that “young people who are adept at spreading new habits and technologies are well placed to contribute to the fight against climate change. Mr. Ban stressed: They (youth) are adaptable and can quickly make low-carbon lifestyles and career choices a part of their daily lives. Youth should, therefore, be given a chance to take an active part in the decision-making of local, national, and global levels, because they can actively support initiatives that will lead to the passage of far-reaching legislation.”

The time to act is now!

A more distinct role should be given to the youth to prevent the impact of climate change because the young generation occupies the Earth and inherits the responsibility to protect the planet, in fighting the complex scientific obstacles presented by climate change. Our future is dismal unless we take strict measures to curb global warming and its huge ripple effects.

Climate change is real and happening. The solutions won’t come only from conference rooms full of scientists, big corporations, and government officials. Everyone has a role to play in the fight against climate change. Youths are idealistic, innovative, connected, and everywhere. 

WE NEED TO BE THE SOLUTION WE SEEK!

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