Young people’s fight against climate change

Efa Ravelonantoandro; Mialy Randrianirina - Arrupe Madagascar Centre, Province of Madagascar
[From “Jesuits 2023 - The Society of Jesus in the world”]

The action taken by Madagascar’s young people towards problems connected to climate change shows they have a key role to play in the fight against the destruction of planet Earth.

Climate change is one of the greatest global challenges facing our world right now. Extreme weather events are demonstrating the growing vulnerability of life on Earth. All of this has an impact, and not only on agriculture, but it specifically endangers food security. It is also causing sea levels to rise and accelerating erosion in coastal areas. Global warming is obviously increasing the intensity of natural disasters, the rate at which species become extinct, and the spread of illnesses. These are all challenges we need to tackle here on the island of Madagascar in the Indian ocean.

To fight this global problem and lessen its impact, experts advocate measures including adaptation and mitigation. Adaptation involves reducing the harmful effects of climate change, while simultaneously taking advantage of the benefits they may bring. Mitigation involves efforts to reduce greenhouse gases (GHGs) and capture carbon (CO2) in the atmosphere. To implement these measures, economic, material and human resources are all necessary. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the current generation of young people will be strongly affected by climate change over the course of their lifetime. In the light of this scenario, the responsibility of fighting for the changes required lies primarily with the young.

No one is better placed to contribute to the fight against climate change than the young people of today, given their ability to popularise new lifestyles and technology. They know how to be flexible and can speedily adopt low-carbon emission lifestyles and careers. We should, therefore, give young people opportunities to be actively involved in decision-making at every level, locally, nationally and globally. As Pope Francis has pointed out, young people have a new kind of eco-consciousness, and should be considered experts on the issues that directly affect their lives.


Young people and NGOs are starting and sustaining efforts on a national level

Seventy-one per cent of Madagascar’s 25.7 million inhabitants are under 30 years of age. Young people from every region of this great island must develop a greater sense of autonomy and take part in the necessary changes. They must forge partnerships, get involved in working out policies, demand tangible action and suggest solutions. It is high time that the State, national and international NGOs and all agents in the development sector, acknowledged young people to be their equal partners in the safeguarding of our planet for all generations. Currently, several youth organisations and movements in Madagascar are dedicated to fighting climate change including Youth for climate, Young leaders fighting climate change, Réseau Climat Océan Indien (Climate Network of the Indian Ocean) and the scouts and girl guides. Moreover, initiatives are flourishing all over the island that are no longer restricted to reforestation projects, as was once the case.

The Arrupe Madagascar Centre (CA-MDG), a Jesuit establishment devoted to formation and research, is also supporting activities promoting sustainable development. One of the four programmes the Centre runs is devoted to the environment and sustainable development (ESD). All the programme activities reflect the third and fourth Universal Apostolic Preferences. Right now, the ESD programme includes two initiatives: LIFEE (Pro-Life and Pro-Environmental Education) and a second project aimed at reinforcing climate resilience in southern Madagascar. Both ventures primarily comprise formation, research activities, and raising awareness of green issues. They are designed for committed young people in organisations set up at the heart of the dioceses.


Taking concrete action is crucial for future generations

This is the success story of two young people, Eddie Ratovoson and Onic Vincent. After taking part in CA-MDG courses, they managed to organise four conferences and one five-day session in their home diocese between 2020 and 2021. They explain: “We had the chance to attend two of the formation sessions organised by the CA-MDG. The first was called Environmentally responsible young people: the hope for future generations. The second was called Ecology Advocacy: get involved! Once these short courses were over, we put together our own project with our local association. What we gained during the courses, in terms of knowledge, inspiration and motivation pushed us to produce tangible action plans ourselves. For the formation workshops we are running in our area, Fenerive-Este, we’ve chosen “Young environmental entrepreneurs” as our theme. Our aim is to get young people involved in protecting the environment, fighting climate change and creating green jobs. At the end of the workshops, participants will be asked to draw up their own action plans.”

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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