The CYNESA Democratic Republic of Congo chapter brought together 28 young people from the Espace Etudiants at the Centre de Recherche et de Documentation Africaine in Bukavu, South Kivu for a conference themed, “Environmental Protection and Youth Engagement in the Digital Age”, on November 9th 2019.
Didier Mugalihya, CYNESA DRC Country Director, spoke about the challenges and opportunities, which the digital age presents for environmental protection. Through images, Mugalihya illustrated a range of environmental challenges that the world is facing, and how. information and communication technologies raise our awareness of these challenges.
Mugalihya discussed how demographic expansion induces several other needs, namely, housing, travel, fresh water, waste water and solid waste disposal, food, and energy (lighting, heating and cooling). He pointed out that it is nature that allows us to satisfy these needs, and in some cases for free for example the air and rain. Satisfying these needs, he observed, creates new challenges and leads to other needs and services, resulting in pollution, diseases and epidemics, and saturation in urban mobility and communication.
Further, Mugalihya demonstrated that there is a chain and a tangle between information technologies, the local and global challenges we observe and the opportunities that ICT can offer. For instance, launching a hashtag on the internet in order to mobilize a greater number of members on social networks is one such opportunity. He however cautioned participants, not to lose sight of the technology gap that still exists between the countries of the North and those of the South, in addition to the rebound effect that the internet has on social life today.
Environmental challenges also offer the possibility to thousands of people around the world to undertake and find green jobs, and to get involved and champion causes for the protection of our common home, for us and for future generations.
The CYNESA DRC Country Director concluded by asking about the sustainability of our cities, the digital revolution and the form of transition to be adopted, especially in the environmental sector. Mugalihya ended his presentation with a call to action. “Can we not give back to nature what it offers us? We know what needs to be done, so let’s act”,
Mr. Daniel Mastaki addressed the commitment of young people to tackling environmental problems. Referencing Belgian sociologist Guy Bajoit, Mastaki demonstrated that the future of today’s youth is more uncertain than it was for the generation before them.
Mastaki explained that inspiration can be drawn from the encyclical letter, Laudato Si’ which calls us to take care of our common home with specific reference to young people and the concrete realities that they find themselves in. He then shared the experience of the associations and voluntary movements to which he belongs and which are mainly made up of young people (AGED, CYNESA and IDEAS For Us). This with the aim of gathering, motivating and pushing young people to get involved in groups, in order to deeply debate on concrete actions to be carried out.
Like Mugalihya, Mastaki took up the current environmental challenges and opened a debate on the major questions for young people. Should we give up on the scale of the challenges? Whose responsibility is it? Why do we really have to commit ourselves? We need concrete actions, but in what form?
Referring to the environmental crisis, Mastaki considered that it is necessary to be more involved in actions such as campaigns and mobilization, reforestation, waste collection, awareness raising and educational activities. He identified collaboration with private and/or public institutions and other stakeholders as essential in protecting our city with its multiple challenges, sometimes with solutions that are within reach. The conclusion of the conference was to challenge participants, towards an effective involvement for the common interest. “It is everyone who needs to change! The change we want is me”.
Didier Mugalihya, Lionel Bisimwa, Daniel Mastaki,
CYNESA- DR Congo.