We Need Leadership to Drive Climate Action in Africa

“If you close your eyes to facts, you will learn through accidents” – this African proverb encapsulates the continent’s climate change predicament. 

Leadership in Africa with respect to the climate crisis is getting to a stage where if we do not take urgent action many local communities and indigenous people will suffer the consequences and our lands will be taken away in our right eyes.

Last week 1000 young people from over 150+ countries at the United Nations Trusteeship Council for the UN Youth Climate Summit to discuss actions needed to combat climate change. It was the UN’s largest youth-focused climate convening ever – and it was filled with incredible energy; ideas; and resolve to push governments (and businesses) to take stronger actions.

It was amazing to represent my country as one of the youth delegates from Nigeria and with the support of the Department of Global Communication and Atlas Corps to be in the room and feel the passion, purpose, and urgency that global youth collectively feel on the climate crisis.

Olumide Idowu & Andy Raben US 🇺🇸 Department of State on Global Youth Issues

The leadership we need to make climate action happen was demonstrated by different young people across the world. My participation was a follow up of the United Nations Civil Society conference happen in Salt Lake City last month where I share with delegates on the urgency and the leadership, we need to drive climate action.

Africa’s out of proportion vulnerability is reinforced by the prevailing low levels of socioeconomic development on the continent mainly due to lack of resources to quickly recover from its effects. This is the reason why we need leaders that can drive climate actions knowing fully well that leadership is not taught in a classroom. Rather leadership is a skill that needs to be developed and we need to all catch the spirit of it and operate in that calling.

SDG Media Zone, United Nations Youth Climate Summit (21 September 2019)

“A bridge is repaired only when someone falls into the water” – African Proverbs. This proverbs tells how the climate crisis is a big issue now and if we do not have the right leaders to work things out them Africa is going to suffer from desertification, flooding and waste management issues and this are the resources and benefits that can take Africa to the next step of development.

“If two elephants fighting – the grass suffers it” Our current leaders are busy playing with our resources meaning the young people will surely suffer this in the future and they will not be competing with their pairs in other continents.

At the UN Climate Summit, I was able to share with delegate and Nigeria Permanent Secretary on why we need to build more leaders to tackle the issue of climate change. I also share with other young people the project we are doing with the Department of Climate Change and supported by UNDP on Youth Innovation Hub across the country. This project was able to bring youth together from different regions to share ideas on what solutions they are providing in solving climate change and SDGs.

No one country can do it alone– and the need for a collaborative approach is upon us. The leadership we need is the YOUTH to solve the climate crisis. If we have the table, that is when we can make meaningful decisions.