Tackling climate change is a key priority area in UNICEF’s Agenda for Every Child and at the same time, climate change
and sustainability are big on the SDG agenda.
In 2015 and 2016 world leaders met in Paris and Morocco for the COP21 & COP22 – during which decisions were made which have crucial consequences for the future of the planet. The Conference of the Parties (COP) was designated as the supreme governing body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) entered into force in 1994, aimed at reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. In preparation for these global summits on climate change, UNICEF developed a digital map to document the daily realities lived by young people worldwide, according to the impacts of the climatic disorder on their community. The map has over 50 report submissions from Zimbabwe.
What is Youth Climate Digital Mapping?
UNICEF issued an appeal to young people to contribute to the realisation of an international climatic mapping cartography. Basing on photos and videos, approximately 150 young people from all over the world, represented its environmental problems (waste, stagnant waters) or best practice (sustainable cities, mobilisation of citizens to clean waste) to address climate change in their communities. The climate digital map, comprised of the reports from the young people, were displayed at COP21 and COP22 and other major climate events to put the voices of youth at the forefront of the climate conversation. These reports are also compiled onto the Climate Digital Map which is used to support local and global climate advocacy projects. Some youth have also been blogging about their experience.
Voices of Youth is not only an online platform for young people to engage in and learn more about issues affecting their world, it also enables youth to use the map and complementary child and youth-produced media for local advocacy with government, business and community. One of the aims of the mapping initiative is to connect the child/youth voices and views with local leaders and decisions makers – people who have the power to act on some of the things that are reported on the map. During this activity children and youth have been presenting their findings and sharing their experiences of what climate change and environmental degradation means in their lives. It has also been very useful to discuss what issues can be dealt with locally and which ones require greater collaboration and investment from government or business. UNICEF Zimbabwe through this engagement with youth has created over 30 reports in 2015 and approximately 25 reports in 2016 on this map so far which detail what children understand and see as the most significant impacts of climate change and environmental degradation to their communities as well as positive solutions which are being made to address air pollution and related environmental problems in Zimbabwe.
The 2016 youth climate digital mapping focused on air pollution as it is a contributor to climate change, negatively affects children’s health and also it’s a global and growing issue of concern which world leaders need to address. Air Pollution is “Generally any substance that people introduce into the atmosphere that has damaging effects on living things and the environment is considered air pollution” –National Geographic.
In 2016 one of the topical issues in Harare has been the burning at the Pomona dump site which one of our digital mappers Lisa Govera reported on.
There are also examples of positive actions being done in the community to address air pollution. In Graniteside – Harare there is a community initiative to separate and recycle waste by Tisunungurei Cooperative. Burning of waste causes various polluting emissions to be released into the atmosphere including methane, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Proper waste management and recycling initiatives are crucial for addressing such air pollution issues.
Darlington Tshuma one of our mappers reported on this.
Marrakech, 11th November 2016 – One of the strongest moments at the COP22 in Morocco was the ceremony of “Climate Youth Awards” dedicated exclusively to the youth voice. Through their own artistic production, young people raised awareness about the impact of climate change on children. The ceremony was organized jointly by UNICEF CO and the CNDH (“National Council for Human Rights”), the constitutional independent body for human rights monitoring. The President of the CNDH, Driss El Yazami, is also member of the steering committee for the organization of COP22 in Morocco (Aicha Yamani – UNICEF Morocco, 2016)