The Minister of Environmental Affairs, Fisheries and Forestry of the Republic of South Africa, Hon. Barbara Creecy, held a consultative meeting with young leaders, and engaged in an interactive dialogue on a wide range of environmental issues. The event, held on February 27th at the Aviator Hotel in Kempton Park, Johannesburg, attracted a big number of young people. Our Deputy Executive Director and Regional Coordinator for Southern Africa, Tafara Dandadzi, led a CYNESA South Africa delegation; Melissa Bvekerwa, Bulelani Buyeye and Amanda.
During the interactive session, a youth from one of the schools raised an interesting question and made a point, about the role of the capitalist system in causing the climate crisis, and that the system’s major beneficiaries are not being held accountable, while the poor and vulnerable in society pay the highest price of the impacts of the climate crisis.
That being noted Minister Creecy, stressed the importance of a just transition, in moving from fossil fuels to green clean technologies. “In as much as we want to move towards clean energy we also have to do it in such a way that we don’t leave people unemployed, creating another problem”, she said. In addressing environmental problems we should not create a solution that causes more social, economic and political problems in the short and long run.
Participants noted that political will in dealing with climate change and issues of the environment was low. Some youth lamented that local governments do not take environmental issues seriously, which gives youth as the current and future leaders an opportunity to fill that gap. To be able to achieve our targets on addressing the climate crisis and environmental issues in general, we as the youth have to raise awareness amongst ourselves. It was noted that many youth seem to not pay much attention to the climate crisis, even though environmental initiatives are opportunities to create employment for ourselves.
Regarding weather services, Minister Creecy highlighted its importance, as it explains why we are experiencing the prevailing weather conditions, something that as a youth present at the meeting saw as another opportunity for young people to get involved in.
The Minister also addressed the status of multilateral environmental agreements, noting that the COP 25 climate conference was not a success, coupled with the challenging situation of the US pulling out of the Paris Agreement. She encouraged the youth to keep raising their voices, and to use the power they have to highlight the urgency of the climate crisis.
Hon. Creecy’s take away message was a challenge to the young people. “Next time we meet, I will be asking you about what you have done”, she said. This calls us as youth, to be engaged not only in word but also in action. We have a job to do, as we are the ones who will inherit all that we see. Our time is now.
CYNESA Deputy Executive Director.