Life as we know it will never be the same! The statement itself seems to be a paradox when we think of the fact that no one wants life to be the same but there is a desire to make and see things change for the better on a daily basis.
A saddening fact in all our endeavour to improve the standard of living some things change for the worse. People, world over, have neglected the impact of their actions on their basic and foundational resource; nature! Human activity, especially industrialisation has accelerated the rate of climate change to levels that threaten the livelihood of millions of people. For much of the 20th century industrialisation was pursued without paying attention to the effects on climate change or the effects of climate change in general.
Climate change has risen to such levels that it can no longer be ignored. Just as the contributions to the problem are not evenly distributed, some countries have suffered more than others, form the effects of climate change. The unfortunate part is that Africa, which is the least contributor towards climate change suffers most from the effects of climate change. Africa is the most vulnerable due to its geographical location, limited adaptive capacity, widespread poverty and low levels of development. At the global level, the recognition of climate as a threat to development has even informed the global agenda on development, with ‘climate action’ being goal number 13 on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were adopted by the United Nations as a upgrade to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) whole lifespan elapsed in 2015.
The need for global action towards climate change, although accepted at the global stage, depends on the activities on the ground for success. Although Africa has not made minimal contribution to the problem, it cannot fold its hands and do nothing. For people t address any problem, they have to see it as such, and decide to deal with it. For the greater part, people in Africa have not seen climate change as man-made problem which can be prevented or at least slowed down; but generally view it as a natural course. This is a status that was denied by a group of young university students at Lupane State University, who decided that people should know about climate change and do something about it. The passion resulted in the formation of the Lupane State University Climate Justice Advocacy club. Since it is no secret that the youth are the ones who are going to carry the largest share of the impacts of climate change, the club decided to make the youths who fall under their sphere of influence their primary audience in its endeavour to raise an awareness in the community on climate change issues.
The club’s major highlight in 2017 was the hosting of the ‘Miss Climate Justice’ beauty pageant on the 30th of September sponsored by Trocaire Zimbabwe, where modeling was used as an entering wedge to draw interest from the youth in Bulawayo. With a climate change theme: ‘Care for yourself, Care for Mother Nature’ the major category for the models was the design of an outfit from recycled materials. A short presentation by Dr C. Ncube from Lupane State University’s department of Development Studies on climate change, while all participants had to answer questions on climate change as part of the categories in the completion. The participants were from various academic institutions in the city and was won by Fikile Ncube from Bulawayo Polytechnic College. The audience was also allowed to answer questions on climate change for some tokens. This was an engaging way of not only sharing information on climate change but raising awareness on things that individuals and communities can do in mitigating and adapting to climate change.
The success of this inaugural event has inspired the club to make it a yearly event with the hope of reaching a larger audience. The idea for the future is to have the reigning queen to conduct some advocacy work on climate change on young people’s platforms especially high schools. The use of entertainment can indeed go a long way in raising an awareness that will eventually turn the adaptation and mitigation strategies shared during these events from just being ideas but to result in lifestyle changes in households and communities as well. With young people making over half of the world population, if there are effectively reached, climate change information can go viral on social and online platforms that has the potential of rallying a continental movement with far reaching impact. What has begun as a small club by passionate young academics has the potential of impacting the world! You can not underestimate your potential, begin with those that are within your sphere of influence; if you succeed with them, your sphere increase and there is no telling how far that influence would reach! Care for yourself by caring for Mother Nature!