Our Environment, Our Development: Championing Climate Change Adaptation Issues Through Education and Advocacy
The Abibimman Foundation, located in Ghana, focuses its efforts on children and youth by helping address the challenges they are facing while simultaneously utilizing them as positive agents in the promotion of sustainable livelihoods, peace and development through facilitated collaboration among various partners in their communities. To date, the Abibimman Foundation has implemented 46 major child and youth development-oriented events.
Climate changes, coupled with development and population pressures, are predicted to have a significant impact on the human and natural systems of Ghana. The Abibimman Foundation believes a key component to lobbying the government's climate mitigation and adaptation policies is more in-depth knowledge of the real challenges being experienced around Ghana. The Abibimman Foundation is working to identify ways in which communities and individuals can adapt to climate changes, and as part of their Our Environment, Our Development program, is developing a youth-focused education and outreach strategy intended to educate young people about the causes and impacts of climate change and provide them with on-the-ground action opportunities.
Climatic variations including changes in rainfall patterns, persistent droughts and flooding, and increased temperatures, coupled with population and development pressures, are likely to have a significant impact on the human and natural systems of Ghana. For example, current human activities such as littering non-biodegradable plastic waste leads to depleted soil fertility and blocked gutters and drains, already resulting in flooding and erosion. In addition, other activities such as traffic congestion, rampant bush fires and illegal felling of trees, and expanding surface mining and quarries leads to high consumption of fuel and increased CO2 emissions. These increased pressures, coupled with climate change, are likely to negatively affect the distribution and productivity of plant and animal species, water supply, fuel-wood, human health, food security, and infrastructure (e.g., roads, bridges, dams).
Because climate change is likely to have serious and permanent impacts on Ghana, it is critical to integrate environmental and climate change concerns into Ghana’s development agenda to reduce the risk it poses to the generations of today and the future. The Abibimman Foundation believes that young people hold the key to overcoming Ghana’s climate change challenges, and as part of their Our Environment, Our Development program, is developing a youth-focused Public Education and Outreach (PEO) strategy on climate change. The PEO strategy will educate young people about the causes and impacts of climate change and provide them with opportunities to work on concrete projects where they can make a difference.
The Our Environment, Our Development program is developing a youth-focused PEO strategy on climate change. The goals of the strategy include: 1) raising awareness and understanding among young people about climate change, its causes and potential impacts, and what individuals can do to reduce emissions using the linkages between road transport, tree planting and sanitation; and 2) motivating youth to take actions within their communities and to encourage others in their lives (e.g., peers, families, communities) to reduce emissions.
The PEO strategy focuses on the following:
- Creating awareness.
- Advocate for recycling of at least 25% of the volume of plastic waste, which cause flooding and road damage.
- Call for improvement of the road transportation system and support alternative transportation methods to reduce traffic congestion and CO2 emissions.
- Advocate for the use of energy saving bulbs, thus reducing wastage of electricity and other domestic fuels.
- Promote a green environment by planting trees along selected roads, within selected parks and along rivers and water bodies.
- Mainstreaming media campaigns to profile and reward participants, foster awareness, and encourage engagement on climate change and other environmental issues. This strategy focuses on the little things youth can do to have an impact on climate change and the environment and includes four projects:
- Plastic Waste Audit Campaign (PWAC) – plastic waste will be collected from homes and schools and presented by a youth delegation to the Ministers of Environment, Local Government and Education, and the Director of the Environmental Protection Agency to encourage greater commitment towards recycling at least 25% of plastic wastes produced in the country.
- Energy Audit and Efficiency Enhancement Campaign (EAEEC) - educate community members on energy usage and efficiency and encourage people to change their ‘onion’ bulbs to energy-saving bulbs.
- Clean-Up the Community Campaign (CCC) - clean the drains and gutters along selected streets and roads within each of the nine districts in the Greater Accra Region; the clean-up exercise will be done with the collaboration of the respective Assemblies and other stakeholder institutions and organizations such as youth groups, religious groups, traditional councils, and security personnel within each locality.
- Road Transport Improvement and Environmental Conservation Campaign (RTI&ECC) - a road campaign including a convoy of over twenty big buses will draw attention to increasing stress on roads and its environmental and economic costs. The road campaign will highlight the adverse impact of climate change on biodiversity and demand greater commitment to alternative transportation methods (e.g., utilizing bus services). Participants will also plant trees along portions of the road, the banks of the Weija Dam, and Kakum Park.
- Building capacity by encouraging widespread dissemination of information on environmental issues; continuing to raise awareness among youth, including sharing their values and viewpoints; and putting a national climate change strategy into global context but also making sure to connect the strategy back to the community to highlight local implications.
- Reinforce youth’s current awareness of environmental matters such as littering of gutters and drains with plastic waste, cutting down trees indiscriminately, bush burning, road traffic congestion and CO2 emissions, in addition to climate change.
- Highlight individual causes and effects of climate change, illustrating its local, national and global dimensions and impacts and how they affect the economy and way of life.
- Design and implement activities that involve more youth participation but require less time commitment.
- Empower youth to form and enhance alliances and partnerships with the government, private sector, educational system, NGOs, churches, and sports groups.
The PEO strategy will be piloted in the Greater Accra Region within 2009 and 2011, and will be replicated in other regions of the country in three phases within a period of ten years (from 2011 – 2021). It will also be used by the member organizations of Ghana National Youth on Climate Change to champion the issues.
Outcomes and Conclusions
The PEO strategy has an impact evaluation system in place to assess the effect of the strategy on youth, and to provide means by which youth can provide feedback and input. Baseline data will be established at the beginning of the PEO strategy and levels of knowledge, awareness and action will be evaluated at the end of the strategy. In addition, the social marketing campaigns will be evaluated for creating a positive and significant impact according to awareness, attitudes, behavioral intentions, interpersonal communications, current use, trends, and use of campaigns as models.
Amoateng, K-N. (2010). Our Environment, Our Development: Championing Climate Change Adaptation Issues Through Education and Advocacy. Ed. Jessi Kershner [Case study on a project of the Abibimman Foundation]. Retrieved from CAKE: http://www.cakex.org/case-studies/our-environment-our-development-champ… (Last updated April 2011)