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S1-Episode 3: African Youth and the Climate Crisis

S1-Episode 3: African Youth and the Climate Crisis

6 April 2022
Adenike Oladosu is an eco-feminist, climate justice activist, eco-reporter and founder of ILeadClimate. She also leads Fridays for Future Nigeria (@FridaysNigeria).

The global climate conference (COP27) is scheduled to be held in Egypt in November 2022. In this episode, Adenike Oladosu, a Nigerian youth climate change activist, talks about the impact of climate change on women and girls and why "delaying [action] is denying the urgency of the climate change crisis in Africa."

Ms. Adenike is an eco-feminist, climate justice activist, eco-reporter and founder of ILeadClimate. She also leads Fridays for Future Nigeria (@FridaysNigeria)

Intro jingle

Bonjour! Asalaam Aleikum! Jambo! Mbote!

This podcast is coming to you from the United Nations. It is about Africa and people who, through their stories and actions, are advancing hope on the continent.

Episode intro

Josephine: This is the Africa Renewal Podcast. I am Josephine Karianjahi.

Melissa: I am Melissa Mbugua.

Josephine: On this episode: Adenike: We have to move faster with the climate action itself if we have to win the race against the climate change crisis, and all of this all has to start from now.

Episode background

Melissa: Today we are speaking to a remarkable young woman, Adenike Oladosu, who is representing Africa on the global stage and leading the way on a very important issue - that’s the climate crisis.

Adenike is an environmental activist from Nigeria, and the founder of ILeadClimate, which is a pan-African climate justice movement to tackle the lack of knowledge about climate change on the continent. She is a prominent campaigner and started the Nigerian “Fridays For Future Campaign.” She has witnessed, firsthand, Lake Chad’s tragic transformation, which has been marked by environmental degradation that threatens the livelihoods of all who depend on the lake.

In her work, she links equality, poverty and climate justice to remind the world that without sustainable livelihoods, peace and stability in the Lake Chad region are tenuous at best.

Josephine: Climate disasters, like viruses, know no boundaries. But whereas governments in the Global North respond to such events by borrowing, African countries must rely on debt-suspension initiatives, aid pledges, or exorbitantly expensive capital-market funding just to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis. None of these options currently provide Africa with the upfront investment the continent needs to improve its long-term prospects.

Youth campaigners like Adenike Oladosu are sounding out Africa’s specific needs and calling for developed countries to fulfill their longstanding climate promises to the region. Adenike Oladosu says she is frustrated by the slow progress. She says: “We are still in the talking phase. We have not yet transited into the action phase, which is needed right now, this moment, and not postponing it into the future. Because that is the most dangerous thing you can do right now.” She says: “Delay now is a denial of the climate change crisis.”

We hope that by the end of this episode, you will feel more informed about the climate crisis in Africa and how you can take action to make a difference.

Josephine: For those who don't know you, please introduce yourself and let us know who is Adenike? When did you become an eco-feminist? And what would you like those who are listening to this episode to know about you?

Adenike: My name's Oladosu Adenike. I'm an eco-feminist, climate justice activist, and eco reporter. I'm also an advocate for a green democracy, where we can include the voice of our environment. I started getting into climate action properly after my undergraduate studies. I saw a horrific incident that happened – I heard about it – of the abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Borno State [Nigeria]. That drew international outcry for Bring Back Our Girls, which I found was the impact of climate change on women and girls. Because I got to research it and I found that there's a shrinking Lake Chad that is affecting the peace and security of not just Nigeria alone, but Niger, Chad, Cameroon and other Central African countries. So when I saw all those incidents, I called myself an eco-feminist because the climate change crisis is making women and girls become victims of its impact through the increase in child brides, lack of education; it’s affecting their sexual reproductive health, affecting their rights to own their land, to energy and to other basic resources that they will use as a form of collateral.

Melissa: Thank you so much for sharing with us what motivated you to start your journey for the environment. Did you ever see your journey going the way it has gone?

Adenike: No, I never saw that coming but when you're passionate about something, about change in your society, you don't know how far it could take you, you know, especially when you know that you want to solve a challenge in your society. It could take you very far.

Josephine: Okay. It's clear that as a young African, you've become a representative of our voice. I understand that you're not yet even 30 years, which is considered very young across the continent, and very common because most of the youth are under the age of 30. How do you see African youth really asserting their voice in the global arena in your experience so far?

Adenike: You know, one thing that gives me hope about the climate justice movement is the fact that it has the face of young people, you know, that are much younger than me, and so it gives us a picture that, yeah, there is hope.

Melissa: There are many young people in Africa who are inspired by you and the work that you're doing as an eco-feminist, an activist and a leader. We’re curious to hear examples of other leaders and young climate justice activists who inspire you in your work as well.

Adenike: Yeah. So, when I saw Greta Thunberg, I got to understand the urgency too, with which she was trying to raise ambition. You know, so I joined that cause because I was trying to create a change in society. And we have the likes of Vanessa Nakate, Elizabeth Wathuti, Leah (Namugerwa). We also have Mr. Climate [Olumide Idowu], different people around the world.

Josephine: So I'm hearing you saying a lot about how your message has gone into the world. One of the areas is that there's not that many people who really get to talk about the intersection of climate, gender justice, and sustainable living from the earth, and what exactly the climate crisis has done. You participated in the COP26. When you were there did you feel like, as an African youth, your voice was being heard in the climate crisis conversation? And what is the impact of that experience of agitating at a global level on the way you see yourself as a young African in the world?

Adenike: When it comes to African youth's voice being heard, we are trying to break free from racism, from any kind of barrier or colonialism, or trying to break the root of colonialism to see how we can make our voice be heard. Because on several occasions, you might just be invited, but your ideas or your points might not be counted. It might just be for invitation's sake.

Melissa: What do you see as the strength of the people you're representing in Lake Chad and the Sahel region who are going through so many of the challenges brought on by the climate situation, whom we can’t see, but we get to hear about them through you?

Adenike: You know African people are the strongest people I know because they have really been able to take a lot of challenges that are the defining issues of our time. My people have been really resilient in the past, you know, and that is why we need urgent action right now. We can neither isolate nor quarantine from the impact of the climate change crisis. If we don't act now, nobody can be banned from coming to any other countries, you know, because it has no boundaries; the climate change crisis has no boundaries. As it's affecting me, it's also affecting you in different ways, you know; it might be a direct or indirect relationship of border crisis or border insecurity. Right now in Africa, the climate change dimension is coming as an armed conflict—as in the Lake Chad region currently: the Boko Haram crisis, the banditry and the rest. And there's a limit to this kind of thing because it can lead to ethnoreligious war because it's already making our diversity to be fragile. It's already making people to question their government, the system of what is going to bring forth for its people, you know, and that is what it could look like. The climate change crisis has no identity.

Josephine: What can somebody do just where they are right now, listening, that as an African, they can become more visible in the climate crisis conversation?

Adenike: Yeah. You can start from where you are. I started from where I am. All that you have to do has to be linked to your community. What is affecting your community has to be your priority, and how you can provide solutions to them. You know, when I first started, I noticed the fact that we have very low knowledge of climate education. There are some issues that are happening in my society or my community that some people term superstitious beliefs, not knowing the fact that these are just environmental issues.

Josephine: I think you've really hit on the moment we are at in history. What kind of mobilization do you expect to see? In fact, what do you demand to see across Africa? Specifically speak to those of us who are listening, who are in a position to mobilize and activate.

Adenike: I was in a panel and they mentioned the fact that how we didn't recognize gender equality. Every one of our societal issues right now is gendered. When it comes to finance, when it comes to energy, environment, health, different sectors. We should make it so that the next generation will come and hear about it, and they'll know that yes, something is being done in the African continent that created a landmark agreement, a landmark action. That for decades, and for generations to come, we’ll keep telling our children about the impact it created in our society, in our lives, in, you know, different sectors and different things.

So we have to make this a reality. We have to move beyond the talking stage to action. Action on what more we need to do to make our various commitments become a reality. and how we can also position gender in the center of this discussion is very important right now, to see that women and girls’ voices that are on the front line of the climate change crisis are not left behind.

And we need to recognize another fact, that we need climate finance in different aspects of our action. Because without finance and transition, it is not possible. So it should also be something that we should be able to hold on to, to see how we can make this a reality, and to see that the $100 billion commitment that was made since 2009 also becomes a reality and not just a talking thing. We also have to know that we don't have time. 2050 is too long for any commitment. It's going to make us to be doomed or to be consumed by the climate change crisis, you know. It's just setting a pace for a warmer world that will not be conducive for us. And hence, we have to move faster if we want to win the race against the climate change crisis. And all of these have to start from now.

Josephine: I think that's a world we can agree on, and that you've shared a vision that allows us to think beyond our current limitations and create a bridge to the days to come. When I think of you Adenike, you are already a leader. You’ve said often that there’s no climate justice without climate finance. If you were appointed now to head a global climate finance organization, what would you do?

Adenike: I'm going to look at the ways in which we can make our finance to be gender-sensitive, in such a way that NGOs or women-led organizations that are really trying to make their voice be heard, trying to take different actions but have limited funds, are given the assets to have financial control. And also, I’d like to see how I could also help in terms of trying to break free from non-climatic factors, such as traditional factors that are leaving women behind such as in land acquisition. That more women will have land. That they'll be able to bring their indigenous knowledge to tackle the climate change crisis and help to reduce food insecurity crisis, reduce poverty and hunger. And I'd also want to use the tools of my financial control to include more voices of men that are ready to stand up for climate action, to see how they can foster change in their society because we are all equal. Trying to see how men, too, are going to take on that leadership role to be able to deliver an equitable society. Trying to see how we can create more platforms so that women will be able to benefit from every financial tool, that we are trying to build capacity to adapt to the climate change crisis, and to find ways in which we can mitigate [the climate crisis]. And trying to bring short-term commitments that could help ease the impact of the climate change crisis and to create a transition around energy. So I will use my tools of financial control to help ease the burden of energy poverty and to transition to cleaner energy sources. So that women don’t have to trek distances in getting all of this energy and, in the process, leading to time constraints that's affecting their education, health and economic wellbeing.

Melissa: Thank you Adenike for taking the time to speak to us.

Adenike: Thank you for creating such a platform where we can leverage our voices and our voices will be heard.

SFX. Episode outro

Josephine: This episode of the Africa Renewal Podcast was produced by the United Nations Department of Global Communications and Africa Podfest.

Melissa: Follow Africa Renewal on Twitter and Facebook. Check out the show notes for more insights into this topic.

Outro jingle

The Africa Renewal podcast provides factual perspectives on economic, social and development affairs in Africa. You can find this podcast on Google Podcasts, Spotify, Apple Podcasts and wherever you listen to great Africa-focused podcasts.

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