Young people are often referred to as future leaders yet the future is now. This statement is not only cliché, but the more it is used the more our insincerity glares down at us. What if we actually meant what we said as a society, as opinion leaders, as a country and as a continent?
I love Africa, not because I am Kenyan but because Africa is me and you. It is its young people who never give up and more often have to go against the grain in a continent with the youngest and fastest growing population in the world, according to a 2017 United Nations Development Programme research. By 2055, the continent’s youth population aged between 15-24, is expected to be more than double the 2015 total of 226 million.
226 million is not just a number. They are the voices of my peers, yet they are not as loud as they should be, they are not amplified as the rest of the voices, their potential has not been fully utilised.
When I think about the number of African youth vis-à-vis the potential and opportunities there in, the theme of a Youth Conference being organised by WWF-Africa and African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) springs to mind – Youth 4 Nature: One by One until Nature Wins them All . This got me thinking, if nature can win just half of the 226 million African youth, then mother earth would be happier and healthier. Why? They got the zest and the potential of changing how we view and how we do things. They are our now and tomorrow.
Governments and non-governmental organisations have previously created rules, laws and regulations meant to help the environment and people thrive but there has been minimal implementation and countable youth involved, if any. The youth play a vital role in the implementation process, sadly, in most cases they are not involved and if involved they may not be part of the decision making process.
We need to come up with ways in which we can bring the youth fully on board. All is not gloom, I am hopeful that the inaugural Youth Conference which will take place from 22nd to 24th of May, 2019 in Nairobi Kenya at the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) grounds, will be the turning point for African youth in conservation. The beautiful and popular ‘rhyme’ by the youth, with the youth and for the youth, will be actualised when youth are given a platform and supported by veterans who have been there, are still doing it and are mentoring the next generation of environmental champions … because with youth on mother nature’s side, who can be against the call to save the natural systems that support life in our planet – a home we all share.
Credit: Oliviah Tawarar
Tawarar is a 26 year old a communications professional who is passionate about environmental conservation and empowering the youth to take action. She focuses on amplifying youth voices because she believes the first step towards youth inclusion is being heard and the first step to being heard is taking action!