Children it’s time to be a hero and plant a tree: Why children are our pioneers in fighting climate change

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The 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference is taking place in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt from 6 November until 18 November 2022. The event acts as a collaborative platform that enables world leaders to seek solutions to combat the ever-burgeoning effects of climate change.

The 21st Century marks the era where we are only beginning to unravel the devastating effects that human activity has on our world’s climate and ecosystems. Till date, many of us have been oblivious to our actions and how they affect the future of our planet. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2022), states that the world is now in extraordinarily dangerous territory.

Along society’s belt, children remain the most vulnerable group affected by climate change. The impact of climate change puts almost every child at risk. Children in rural areas experience these climate shocks first-hand and are 15 times more likely to be affected by the results of uncontrolled climate change. South Africa, faced with erratic weather patterns has resulted in the tragedy of the KwaZulu-Natal floods. This already embeds children in crises and these occurrences continue to threaten their health, nutrition, education, development, survival and future.

Children are urged to exercise climate captaincy and make everyday attempts to save the environment. The COP 27 summit understands the importance of representing the youth within these discussions as these climate commitments directly influence their lives. With over 200 million people aged 15 to 24, Africa has the largest population of young people in the world and the fastest growing youth population in the world. The youth segment holds enough power to transform the narrative of climate change. Efforts to conserve energy, promote recycling and reduce their carbon footprint all incite continual behavioural change. These small steps such as taking short showers, planting trees, and carpooling to school, collectively mobilize all South African children to bridle the effects of climate change.

It is impossible to flourish through a silo mentality and so we are encouraged to work together with the youth of South Africa to mitigate the dangers of global warming.

When guided by the climate-advocating giants such as The Wildlife and Environmental Society of South Africa (WESSA), South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and Department of Basic Education (DBE), children in their own capacity can trigger a domino effect and curb climate change.

Author: Lia Naidoo (GCIS)