We have slightly over only 8 more years until we reach the desired SDGs towards 2030. For SDG 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts) It is important to rethink new strategies on combating climate change through creating mitigation strategies, adapting to new environments and developing resilient systems that are not only re-imagined, but can provide long term solutions.
Speaking to Youth4Nature Managing Director and GLF Climate: Forests, Food and Finance -Frontiers of Change Speaker Oluwaseun Adekugbe, we tapped into the voice of youth in climate action and understood a pertinent actions that need to be adapted to inform new commitments. In our great reset, its important that we not only change the nature of our past ways of living, but also adapting to a renewed form of commitment making and engagement, to collectively end different forms of injustices that climate change has brought across the world.
Youth4Nature is a youth lead organization, known to mobilization youth for climate justice. It’s a international non-profit organization which aims to educate, empower and mobilize young people to lead the solution in ecological and climate crisis that are rooted in justice and are aligned in traditional, local and indigenous knowledge, grounded in inter-generational justice.
With a three-fold mission to mobilize decision makers to take ambitious action for nature and climate by 2030, creating co-benefits for social and human wellbeing, Elevating the voices of youth through storytelling and bridging youth action between our diverse climate it aims to see young people participating in decision making processes and accountability frameworks.
Our Afrolutionist Mmabatho Motsamai spoke to Oluwaseun Adekugbe on the back end work of this mission being realized, through young people taking a stance in global platforms including COP 26 in Glasgow Scotland and GLF Climate: Frontiers of Change.
Several commitments are being made, particularly on reforestation agenda at COP 26. What is your opinion on the nature of commitment making towards the reforestation agenda?
OA: I hope that this commitment is going to be actualized, we’ve had different commitments when it comes to deforestation, forest degradation and youth empowerment. But I’m thinking that this commitment is going to go a long way, though truth about this issue about deforestation, we know forest is a major part of the conversations on climate change. We cannot neglect forests, we cannot neglect that deforestations happens across the globe.
One thing that people have not taken into consideration is the grassroots and local communities. For example, in Nigeria we have over 65% of the population made of local communities living in and around forests. A lot of these communities depend of forest for their livelihood. We have developing countries that do not have access to good infrastructure and food, and people depend on forests for their needs. There is no way we can achieve low rate deforestation without taking into consideration land owners and grassroot communities of these forests. We even have countries that get revenues from forest resources. We should be able to address these issues first prior to making commitments. We need to understand what is needed, what communities need and alternative solutions are available to them. We need to bridge the gap between governments and local communities.
I was actually thinking around one of the leading causes of deforestation being extraction and mining, particularly extracting bauxite, clearing forests, which is used to make renewable energy materials. There is a need for a bottom up approach and a relationship approach to determine these commitments. How do you think these global commitments can be used a tool to ensure livelihoods and that we are on a reforestation agenda towards 2030?
OA: I believe it’s in recognizing the need to meet the demands of local and indigenous communities first, and make sure we have the support of indigenous leaders, land owners who depend on forests for their livelihood and have a key role in the stewardship of forests and land use. There has to be further action in connecting dots between indigenous communities and land owners. I emphasise this because I’ve seen this challenge. Connecting the needs of local and indigenous communities to the agenda will realize these commitments.
One another important thing is accountability. One thing that is lacking in COP26 is transparent accountability. We need to be able to hold governments for their actions and holding them accountable for decisions that they are made and publicized. I am aware that there are measurements, monitoring and evaluation programs that have been set from COP26. We need to have and publicize tools that are available for us to hold governments and all stakeholders accountable, particularly between now and COP 27.
In terms of holding people accountable, making sure that this is not a promise we’ve always had and that people have an opportunity to continuously affirm their respective commitments and work together to achieve this goal with working intentionally with indigenous and local communities.
We need to redesign and redistribute financial commitments across Global South. We need to take into consideration on different systems and different rates of deforestation across the world. We need to systematically strategize on reforestation on particular parts of the world, because we cannot leave any country behind. For example, we have actors and stakeholders that need to be carried along in the agenda.
From an inclusive and decentralized lens we’ve had a historic problem with deprioritizing due to capitalistic interests. For your GLF plenary, on your call to action, what would be that from the youth’s perspective and what do we have to do differently?
OA: In terms of young people we need to start using the rights based approaches when it comes to justice (climate and environmental justice). Young people should have all access where decisions are being made. For example, global commitments made today are by world leaders. What about world youth leaders? Young people have a lot of experience in tackling climate issues and deforestation. We have a wealth of knowledge and are willing to share it. What we ask is not only for the space and opportunities, but to be decision makers and part of the decision making process.
We want to recognize local communities, young people in achieving climate gaols, and biodiversity. We want global commitments that are transparent, tangible with goals and metrics. We want it in terms of numbers, the period it will take and who we hold accountable throughout the process. We need to understand timelines for example: expectations after one month, action points and quantitative metrics.
This article was published as part of a special series of Global Landscapes Forest Hybrid Conference GLF Climate: Forests, Food and Finance -Frontiers of Change from November 5-7 2021.