The topic of climate change has been discussed widely through the years,  policies and
strategies have been formed to mitigate the cause and effects of this phenomenon. In all these
discussions, the voice of the youth has been minimal or rather muted in comparison to the
participation of other stakeholders. The Youth for Climate Action event held at Impact Hub
Harare took the conversation about climate change to a completely new level or at least new to
us. The event saw youth from all walks of life coming together to share their thoughts and ideas on
the issues of climate change. The audience comprised of primary, secondary and tertiary level
students as well as other stakeholders including BOOST Enactus and GiHub. There were
multiple presentations and the ‘Priviledge Walk’ exercise by UNDP, which aimed to show and
educate participants on how climate change affects groups differently depending on their
circumstances, highlighted how we often ignore climate change because it seemingly does not
affect us directly.
It was eye opening to see climate change from the perspective of other young people and how
each case differs. I myself am a youth but I must confess that I felt really old at one point as the
high school students were suggesting solutions to problems concerning climate change. One
girl from St. Dominics Chishawasha boldly stated “Yes, we are here now, we’re learning but
what do we do with the information afterwards, who do we tell?”, stressing the need for a
platform where youth can air out their views concerning environment issues so as to reduce the
capacity gaps between the government and other stakeholders.
One of the panelists went on to pose a question for the youth, “what’s stopping you from
sharing your big idea on climate change?” It was interesting to see the response from the
youth with answers ranging from “who do I tell?” to “I am afraid of being shut out”. One of the
respondents explained how most youth have the notion that they have to start big or come with
a larger than life idea to get recognition when in actual fact, small steps count. These include
peer to peer education to spread awareness on the importance citizen participation in curbing
climate change.
The interactive panel discussion presented opportunities which can be integrated into waste
management solutions. These include, recycling and turning biodegradable waste into biofuel
for cooking and heating. For instance, St. Dominic’s Chishawasha are taking green innovation a
step further by recycling cardboard and non-degradable waste and selling it. They are also
working on a biodigester to use for their kitchen which will make use of biodegradable materiasl
which will be collected and fed as fuel into the digester to produce gas. The most amazing part
is that all this is student led (yes, they’ve made it onto our cool kids wall)!
So what’s next? Climate action. After this youth discussion we all feel the heat, we now know
the different groups and organisations that will listen to our thoughts on climate and amplify our
concerns. Impact Hub Harare hopes that this dialogue will be the birth of multiple round table
discussions which aim to address the concerns raised by the youth of today. Please follow the
hashtag #Youth4ClimateAction on twitter for more photos of the event and also check out the
videos on our Impact Hub Harare Facebook page.