Youth Profile #1: How Nigerian Climate Coalition are building green bridges ahead of COP18

By Tierney Smith

Across the world, students and young people are mobilising on climate action in a bid to push world leaders to act and to secure their futures.

Speaking at the Bonn Climate Talks in May, UNFCCC Chief Christiana Figueres, said that it was time for young people to step up and take the baton on climate action, while protests in the corridors by the youth present showed they were ready to take up this challenge.

With our Student Project, we aim to showcase the world being down by young people around the world in pushing forward the climate agenda.

As part of this we will be working our way around the globe, profiling and showcasing the work of a different group each week to see what they are doing, and why.

In the first of this series of profiles, I spoke to Olumide Idowu, Youth Engagement Officer at the Nigerian Youth Climate Coalition.

Olumide Idowu, Youth Engagement Officer at the Nigerian Youth Climate Coalition

He explained what the group in Nigeria aimed to do, how they are going about it and how working in Nigeria is not always simple.

What are your group doing and what areas of work do you focus on?

The Nigerian youth climate coalition works to inspire, empower, mobilize and unite young people to take positive action on climate change acrossNigeria. We implement our programme through four major arms: Media, Policy Formation, Education and Outreach Programmes.

In the media arm we aim to engage young people through social media by organising meetings through our social media which focus more on Sustainable National Development and also we use it to engage the leaders in the area of development to see what they need to do for a better future for the youth.

Our policy formation arms have included projects with the Building Nigerian Response to Climate Change ( BNRCC)/ Nigerian Environmental Study Team ( NEST) in Nigeria which aim to engage young people to be part of the conversation and policy formation in Nigeria.

We also aim to give a room to all youth who want to be part of policy formation. We try to take part in the international processes – based on how engaged we are at the time they are being carried out and we try to participate a lot in the international Climate Change conferences. So far we have been able to send our director to the conferences but we are looking forward to having more young people be part of it once we find the funding to make this happen.

Our education programme involved projects which help the education and understanding of young people in Nigeria. Projects have included Low Carbon Paper Youth Workshops and Campus Climate Change Shows.

Talking about our Outreach we have been able to use the Campus Climate Change Show to showcase the need for climate action. This is a proposed media campaign of the organisation aimed at reaching 60 million young people in the country through radio, television and education programmes.

The objective is to raise awareness of the negative impact of climate change and the need for young people to take action and to educate other young people in the country on issues around climate change, environment and population issues, health and rights education and gender. It is done in different states but we are still working on other states to host it towards COP18.

The group work to engage young people in Nigeria on climate change related issues

What results have you seen from your work so far?

Through us many young people have been able to see the need to take action on climate change and sustainable development. We have mobilized over 10, 000 Nigerian youth and  I can say as well we have received recognition from the government. We have been able to make our own contribution.

We have also been able to make more of an impact by following up the policies in order to make sure they have been passed and included in party papers.

I would say from a scale of 1-10 of cooperation from the Nigerian Government we are probably at about 4 out of 10 because we still have some leaders that are really not putting us into consideration except the ones that are really keen to make change.

Looking at position paper on climate change, we have been able to make a move on seeing how we can implement some of our small projects, which can then be replicated by the government in other states in the country. We have also been able to show the Ministry of Education that we have set out a good way for them to include climate change as part of the school curriculum.

What are the challenges you have faced and what has or hasn’t worked for you?

Our biggest challenge is funding, we do not have the funding to carry out some of the projects we would want to do. We also have a problem in that we find volunteers who want to work with us but we don’t have the mobility. With the volunteers; they have to have a passion for it but also the time to carry out activities. It can be difficult in this part of the world. They are unable to travel to carry out the work.

We have about six states involved in the groups and about 15 people working within that. I think with the little we have to work with we have been able to work out all of the projects we have and we have been able to change lives with it which has been a huge success.

What support have you seen for your activities?

In terms of funding we drive our finance from an array of sources. Primarily individual donations from our supporters make up 50% of our income, the other 50% comes from funds and grants where we send off application forms to be able to cover the costs of the NYCC and run all our campaigns, projects and events.

What are the impacts being seen in your country from climate change?

I have noticed there is much more rain than their used to be.

They also work to get young people engaged in the countries environmental policy

What would be your vision for 2050? 

The impact of the changing climate will be very difficult to handle and it will be potentially very long lasting. It is very serious. The scientific evidence on global warming is strengthening daily and there are risks over and above those that are usually considered.

This needs increased public awareness, youth engagement programme, promotion of research and there needs to be a commissions or agency established that will handle issues related to global warming and climate change. The Federal, State and Local Government, International Agencies and other development partners are required to fund climate change projects around the world for a sustainable solution that must be seen through. These funds should a have a youth engagement component.

I want to see a world with fresh air and green vegetation.  A world where 80% of the youth population in Nigeria have the ability to adapt and engage in climate change actions and programmes

What would help your group move forward in their work?

We need to have proper funding so that we can carry out some other projects and we also have to be part of the decision making at all levels

We are currently working on a climate change booklet for the children of Nigeria and also an initiative called Project I SEE NAIJA which focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals under the UN Millennium Development Goals to see how we can develop training around the project so young people across the country can be involved in the process. We also work closely MDGs of the UN.

What do you think youth groups can bring to the climate debate?

In every nation, youth is like a life which without them there would be no living. I see youth as the backbone of every nation and with the one voice which all youth around the world are looking towards we will see the change we want to see.  They can not be a sustainable society with adequate investment in young people in all sectors of development; ecology, social and the economy.

VIDEO: UNFCCC chief Christiana Figueres demands action from youth over climate change

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