Young people mobilised to fight against climate change

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To carry out its acitvities properly, the Benkadi project is supported by the National Coordinator of Youth for Environment and Climate (CONAJEC). As far as the coordinator of this strategic partner, Aboubacar Lougué, is concerned, the future of the climate is the responsibility of young people. They will pay the heavy price for climate degradation in the near future. To learn more about his commitment to climate, we met him on Oct. 14, 2022 at Bangreweogo National Park, the green lung of the city of Ouagadougou.

"The world is on fire; now is not the time to worry about matters of lesser importance." This quote by Teresa of Avila from the 16th century is more than relevant today. The environment is on fire. This is also the vision of Aboubacar Lougué, when it comes to the degradation of our ecosystem and climate change in Burkina Faso and the rest of the world. This awareness is the common thread of his involvement in various national and international platforms. Among others, he is a member of the YOUNGO platform, the youth department of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). "We have been asked to participate in the coordination body at the international level so that we can make our modest contribution to debates on the environment at the global level," he confides to us, not without pride.

He says his involvement with national organizations has been a major factor in his appointment to international bodies on climate issues. "I coordinate both the environmental organizations in the first district of Ouagadougou and the network of environmental and climate youth organizations in Burkina Faso ", he says. Not surprisingly, he is a member of the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change in West Africa. This initiative organized several continental youth meetings. But all those commitments do not make Lougué a satisfied young person. "Having contributed to activating youth at the continental and international levels, we felt it necessary to create an independent organization to not only continue youth mobilization and capacity building, but also to go further in influencing public policy through advocacy. In this perspective, the National Coordination of Youth for Environment and Climate (CONAJEC) was born. The organization aims to contribute to sustainable mobilization of young people on environment and climate change issues so that they become young role models. The means of action used by CONAJEC are mainly capacity building and lobbying and impact actions such as reforestation and public conferences. CONAJEC is credited with organizing the "COP in My City," an alternative COP as a prelude to COP 22, which brought together young people from 20 African countries in the capital of Burkina Faso. "At this alternative COP, 200 young people responded to the invitation," said Aboubacar Lougué.

This mini-COP was considered a good initiative by some and received the approval of the United Nations who, given CONAJEC's expertise, considered it a credible meeting. The head of CONAJEC explained that in addition to this aforementioned activity, the organization has been holding the National Youth Conference on Climate since 2016: a meeting to continue questioning and raising awareness among young people about their indispensable role in the fight against the harmful effects of climate change.

It is therefore in light of this rich experience that CONAJEC was chosen as a partner in the Benkadi/Burkina project. "We were pleasantly surprised to find that youth are given an important place in the implementation of the Benkadi Burkina Faso project. We are therefore proud to be involved in this important West African project, which fits well with CONAJEC's objectives," said Aboubacar Lougué. From the beginning of the project's implementation, CONAJEC has been fully committed to achieving its assigned objectives. "We successfully trained 200 young people on climate leadership," Aboubacar Lougué explains. He adds that 100 youth were trained in Banfora and more than 100 youth in Ouagadougou.

In addition to this youth training, the capacities of 46 miners were also strengthened. According to the CONAJEC coordinator, these sessions were not only basic training, but also capacity building for those involved. The goal is to raise awareness of the danger of using chemicals such as mercury and cyanide, to living beings and to nature. One of the first consequences is the degradation of biodiversity. This capacity building was carried out in collaboration with the Agence Nationale d'Encadrement des Exploitations Minières Artisanales et Semi -mécanisées (ANEEMAS). Subsequently, artisanal miners made a formal commitment to adopt new environmentally friendly working techniques. This is all the more important because the old practices included the use of banned chemicals. Study tours are also planned as part of the Benkadi Burkina project, with a view to reviewing good practices already implemented. Commenting on the Benkadi Burkina project, the head of CONAJEC welcomed the project and appreciated its noble ambitions. He also welcomed the various ways used to instill a climate change resilience dynamic in the population.  CONAJEC's youth recalled the words of current UN Secretary-General António Guterres: "My generation has so far largely failed to promote justice and preserve the planet. Your generation must hold us accountable for this situation so that we do not betray the future of humanity."

De Victor Komondi
Expert Communication et Plaidoyer
Projet Benkadi Burkina Faso
Mail : victorkom@gmail.com

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