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Rising from the Ashes: Youth-Led Change for a Sustainable Future


Rising from the Ashes: Youth-Led Change for a Sustainable Future
by Ukpono Bassey
Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF)

In the heart of Africa, where elders reminisce about a time untouched by extractive activities, these stories are as mythical as a utopian fantasy to the youth. Born into poverty and harsh living conditions, African children face daunting health challenges from the moment they take their first breath. Their reality is a far cry from the idyllic narratives spun by those who shaped the policies of the past.
As we delve into the intricacies of these issues, it becomes increasingly evident that the key to a sustainable future lies in the hands of the very demographic most affected – the youth. As the Conference of Parties (COP) deliberates on crucial decisions affecting these regions, it’s time to address the disparity between rhetoric and reality.

Harsh Realities of Economic Systems: Young people find themselves entangled in an economic web that demands hard work in harsh conditions while offering little in return but perpetual poverty. The prevailing economic system perpetuates a cycle of suffering that requires immediate attention and change.

Empty Promises and Delayed Accountability: While elders negotiate, the focus often shifts towards distant goals such as Net Zero and emissions reduction by 2050. However, a critical question looms large: How old will these decision-makers be in 2050? The current trajectory appears to shift responsibility onto future generations, an act that is not only unjust but also unacceptable.

A Call to End Extractive Crimes: The world cannot afford more sacrificial zones that consign the youth to an unlivable future. Extractive crimes must cease immediately. The elders’ continuous failure to address these issues is not just disappointing but also a testament to the urgent need for change.

Time for Youth Leadership: After 28 COPs, it is evident that the elders have fallen short. The baton must be passed to the youth who are not only ready but also compelled to take charge. The time for change is now – a change that ensures a sustainable future for generations to come.

In the battle against environmental degradation and economic injustice, the youth emerge as the catalysts of change. The future they demand is not negotiable, and the world can no longer afford the luxury of indifference. It’s time for the youth to take the lead, rewrite the narrative, and usher in an era where promises are kept, actions speak louder than words, and the sacrifice of entire zones for the prosperity of a few becomes an unacceptable relic of the past.

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