Youth blog posted on Reuters alert
The youth blog that senior programme officer and youth specialist Rebecca McNaught posted on the Our World, Your Move website was accepted by Reuters AlertNet and got published on their website on 17 December 2009.
Climate change affects the lives of people around the world, especially young people who will shoulder today’s burden tomorrow.
From the Pacific islands of Tuvalu to the jungles of Brazil, young people are victims of the effects of climate change – but, increasingly, also key actors for positive change.
Young people (under the age of 30) are a large proportion of the world’s population, and in some countries the majority of the population. These youth hear about and see the changes happening in our world, but they see things differently, bringing a creative zeal that is vital to meeting the challenge of climate change.
When facing a challenge as broad as this, you need to be flexible, and, as a saying goes in Fiji, “you can only bend a tree when it is young.”
Young people need to be engaged in the response to climate change because we stand to inherit an increasingly dangerous world. We must not only know about climate change but be armed with the skills needed to tackle it.
We need not only to be consulted on climate change, but also to be part of the decision making. Knowing about climate change is a first step, but without stepping forward to take action, it will only ever be a single step.
Fortunately, there are already many great examples of Red Cross and Red Crescent youth taking positive action.
From community drama shows in Colombia and health messages to prevent cholera outbreaks in Zimbabwe, to youth forums in the Solomon Islands and dengue fever prevention messages spread by Indonesian Red Cross volunteers, young people are responding to this humanitarian challenge.
Kenya Red Cross youth volunteers were recently awarded a global prize for their plans to address climate change and help deal with recurrent drought in their country.
With the prize money the group will train youth in schools and elsewhere about climate change and how to deal with its impacts through changed farm practises and enhanced disaster preparedness.
In essence, the youth of the Red Cross and Red Crescent are preparing communities to adapt to the challenges of the future.
In June 2009, hundreds of Red Cross and Red Crescent youth volunteers met in Solferino, Italy, for a World Youth Meeting to prepare them to respond to the humanitarian issues of today, including climate change.
These volunteers drew “risk maps” for their own communities and identified measures to address adverse climate changes that are taking place.
They took the first step, and went on to keep taking climate steps when back in their own communities.
As Vuli Guana, from Fiji Red Cross, said afterward, “It’s easy to talk. The challenge now is for today’s youth to take action.”