|Left to right: Birame Wane, Ndeye Asse Diagne, Aboudu Azziz Mbaye and Khadidiatou Diop from Senegal were chosen as ‘youth representatives’ at the Children's Climate Forum in Copenhagen.|
COPENHAGEN, Denmark, 28 December 2009 – Four young people from Senegal were chosen as ‘youth representatives’ at the Children’s Climate Forum in Copenhagen – the run-up event to the COP15 United National Climate Change Conference this month.
Birame Wane, Ndeye Asse Diagne, Aboudu Azziz Mbaye and Khadidiatou Diop were were chosen from about 160 young representatives from 44 countries.
UNICEF Senegal sponsored the country’s presence at the event, which allowed the West African teenagers to participate in workshops about the effects of climate change and what their generation can do to ensure their countries address the problem.
All four representatives said the opportunity to exchange experiences and ideas with their peers from around the world was their favourite part of the forum.
How climate change affects youth
As part of the forum’s workshops and presentations on climate change, the young people shared information about how climate change was affecting their countries.
Ndeye said the images her peers from Bangladesh shared from the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami had lingered with her and left her even more determined to address the issue – both in her country, throughout West Africa and all over the world.
Khadidiatou Diop – who was also selected as one of just eight UNICEF 'Climate Ambassadors' from around the world for the COP15 conference – talked about subjects such as using renewable energy and problems other countries are facing.
“I was especially touched by the delegation from Maldives,” said Khadidiatou. “They are an island nation that is just one metre above sea level and life for them has become very hard, because of climate change.”
Important information from experts
In between exchanges with their peers, the teenagers garnered important knowledge from experts and researchers in the climate change field.
“It was a beautiful experience,” said Abdoul Aziz Mbaye. “I am very interested in starting new projects, and they taught us where to begin, for example how to make an appeal and who you should approach.”
Just days after returning to Dakar from their first trip to Europe, all four Senegalese teenagers stressed that their work has just begun. “It doesn’t stop here,” Ndeye said. “We need to continue the work.”
The work continues back home
Khadidiatou said one of the first and most important goals is to share knowledge about the effects of climate change with others.
“The issue is that people are not aware of the problem,” she said. “We are of course going to start by talking to students at our school.”
Ndeye added they would also like to organize a concert with well-known musicians to help get their message in to the public arena. They are also organizing environmental clubs in their schools to promote climate change awareness and educate their peers about issues such as littering and how they can mobilize recycling efforts.
The four youth representatives from Senegal say their lives have changed since returning from Copenhagen, as they try to set good examples for their fellow students.
“When we’re on breaks from class, all we can talk about is climate change!” says Ndeye.
Unite for Climate
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