The WWF is run at a local level by the following offices...
- WWF Global
- Central African Republic
- Central America
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- European Policy Office
Youths Involvement not an Option for Sustainable Conservation in Zambia: The Rationale
Youths present a window for meaningful conservation in Zambia. Like many countries in the world, Zambia has a very young population. It has approximately 74 percent of its population under the age of 30 and a median age of 16.6 years far below the global average of 29.2 years (Youth Map Assessment Report, 2014; National Youth Policy, 2015 and The Human Development Report, 2013). Suffice to say young people constitute the largest population in Zambia.
The composition of young people in Zambia has a number of implications. First, young people determine the leaders of Zambia such that there is no politician who will ever be elected into public office without youths’ support. In view of this, youths can arguably be said to be the ones leading the country as their choice of leaders determine government policies and regulations in all sectors including the conservation sector. Thus, youth should be involved in conservation activities so that even their choice of leaders can appreciate it. Young people who are well informed about conservation will choose leaders who appreciate conservation and further demand that leaders uphold conservation principles while in office.
Secondly, there has been a paradigm shift towards youth empowerment and development at national and global level. A number of national and global policies recognize young people as ‘critical agents of change’ and tools for sustainable development. These include, inter alia, Sustainable Development Goals, National Youth Policy 2015, and Seventh National Development Plan 2017-2021. Effective implementation of these policies will see youths participating in the decision making process and taking up key strategic positions in government that will influence policies including those governing the conservation sector. Secondly, there has been a paradigm shift towards youth empowerment and development at national and global level. A number of national and global policies recognize young people as ‘critical agents of change’ and tools for sustainable development. These include, inter alia, Sustainable Development Goals, National Youth Policy 2015, and Seventh National Development Plan 2017-2021. Effective implementation of these policies will see youths participating in the decision making process and taking up key strategic positions in government that will influence policies including those governing the conservation sector. As such, youths will have to be engaged and involved in conservation of natural resources.
Thirdly, the lifestyles that youths adopt have the greatest impact on the country’s natural resources due to the fact that they are the majority. Imagine what would happen if all youths in Zambia, 74 percent of the population, were to be buying fewer clothes, use clean energy like solar, wind and thermal energy, and use green transport like walking and cycling. Zambia would be a very clean country with very low greenhouse gases emissions.
Fourth, youths dominate the labour market in Zambia. The Labour Force Survey Report 2017 indicates that 56 percent of the total labour force are young people, of which about 17 percent is unemployed. This puts youths in a strategic position in the transformation of Zambia’s economy from a Brown economy to a Green Economy which will give birth to Green jobs and appreciate conservation. Green jobs are jobs that “(a) reduce consumption of energy and raw materials; (b) limit greenhouse gas emissions; (c) minimize waste and pollution; and (d) protect and restore ecosystems” (International Labour Organization (ILO)).
In view of the above points, I am happy to be part of a project that is engaging young people. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in partnership with Plan International is implementing the Our City 2030: Youth Visions and Solutions Project. The Project aims at ensuring that youths are contributing to cities becoming climate smart, resilient and sustainable, through building the capacity of youths, in and out of schools, in education for sustainable development and climate related issues - for improved conservation. Once fully developed, school visions and solutions are presented to management for adoption and implementation. On the other hand, city visions and solutions are presented to the local council authorities for adoption, at an annual event called the Climate Council.