Youth want to be engaged in state's policy-making

Minister Barbara Creecy
Minister Barbara Creecy

Environmental activists believe that the country's climate crises can be positively dealt with only if government involves youth in policy-making.

Youth from different provinces had a dialogue on climate change with minister of environment, forestry and fisheries Barbara Creecy in Kempton Park recently.

Young people presented ideas that could assist the country in dealing with the issue.

Their biggest concern was that government was treating the issue of climate change as an individual fight, instead of allowing other stakeholders to participate.

Issues raised ranged from climate change, waste management, agricultural challenges, environmental health, food security and public awareness and education on environmental issues and climate change.

Mbali Mhlongo, a student fromWits University and the founder of Eco Buddy, was among the people who advocated that youth be involved in policy-making.

Mhlongo suggested that the national biodiversity strategy be re-evaluated because it was "failing".

"It is important to be involved in the writing policies as young people. When I speak of writing processes, I mean fully engage youth instead of making them tokens, taking picture and hashtags... It is crucial to be included in this processes because if you want to address a problem that affects the majority of the population, what better way than to engage with the people and find out what problems they have," Mhlongo said.

"We might be in school, but we have solutions; the problem is that we don't know how to communicate these solutions or implement them. We can't just go to parliament and change decisions. If we were able to implement change in a large scale, we would have done it. We have done it in our small communities," she said.

Thembi Nkanda, who is part of Youth Services Cooperatives in Free State, said: "We came here wanting to hear the minister's feedback on the climate change conference that she attended. And we wanted to know what the department was doing towards implication of climate change."

Creecy said SA was part of the countries that have signed the Paris Agreement which brings all nations into a common cause to undertake efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects.

"The agreement aims to increase the ability of countries to deal with the impacts of climate change, and at making finance flows consistent with a low GHG emissions and climate-resilient pathway," Creecy said.

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