Unite4Climate Zambia is one of UNICEF’s signature child-led advocacy programs. It partners with young people in all of the country’s nine provinces to combat climate change and is helping to empower and inspire thousands of children. Through media programs, debates, and advocating for the construction of floating schools in flood-prone areas, Zambia’s young Climate Ambassadors are agents of change. Reaching 200 climate ambassadors each year and equipping them with the “pay it forward” concept, Unite4Climate Zambia is working to make Zambia and the global community more equitable.
In December 2009 children from around the world got together for the first Children’s Climate Forum (CCF), held in Copenhagen, Denmark before the United Nations climate summit (COP15). The CCF, organized by UNICEF, was a unique platform where children could voice their concerns about different climate issues affecting communities. Four Climate Ambassadors from Zambia attended the event and were passionate about replicating the experience back home. Inspired by the CCF experience, the Zambian Climate Ambassadors partnered with UNICEF Zambia to create the flagship program: Unite 4 Climate Zambia - a nationwide program to inspire and foster child-led action on climate change reduction advocacy and HIV and AIDS prevention.
There are many visible effects of climate change in Zambia. It has had many impacts on the health and agricultural sectors as well as the economy of Zambia. Floods have not only destroyed houses and destroyed crops, the emergencies have also resulted in the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, and dysentery. Droughts and irregular rain patterns have caused crop failure and have largely reduced the food security of the country. The fact that Zambia is already facing the impacts of climate change cannot be denied and its effects can be seen all over the country. However, the majority of the population is uninformed about this matter. Many people do not know how they are contributing to climate change or how they can do something about it. That is exactly what Unite 4 Climate Zambia is trying to tackle. Unite 4 Climate Zambia uses the Child Ambassador’s approach and have trained children coming from all over the country. The strategy is for the ambassadors to sensitize their respective communities on climate change and be a channel through which various environmental projects can be undertaken.
The program kicked off with the first Zambian Children’s Climate Conference (ZCCC), which was held in Lusaka from April 26-28, 2010. One hundred and fifty six delegates coming from all nine provinces were engaged in an intensive three-day program filled with presentations from climate experts, thematic discussions, practical skills building workshops, and field visits. The program was designed to educate ambassadors on a broad range of issues related to climate change, as well as to show practical and simple ways in which they could tackle those issues. Ambassadors were challenged to design their own action plans and lead climate awareness raising campaigns back in their communities. Following from that, ambassadors started an environmental dialogue with both their peers and their communities at large.
• media (radio and video) in partnership with Child Radio Foundation;
The Climate Ambassadors were able to design a comprehensive action plan through the mentored process and were also able to discuss their plans in detail with Zambia-based climate experts, including from the Ministry of Environment, Tourism, and Natural Resources. As a result, at the end of ZCCC2 all the ambassadors were equipped with a concrete action plan, as well as different creative tools they could use to communicate their advocacy goals and mobilize their communities.
When ZCCC2 came to an end, it was time for the Zambian Climate Ambassadors to start putting their action plans into action. And we have been witnessing the rise of a child-led green movement which is growing in all corners of the country. So far, the Climate Ambassadors have led various different actions across country. Our ambassadors from Chipata, Lusaka, Kabwe and other cities have mobilized seeds and tools from local authorities and have organized tree planting days in their communities. Ambassadors from Lusaka have also organized litter clean-up days as part of their strategy to raise awareness in the wider community. Ambassadors from Kabwe are visiting communities of charcoal burners to sensitize and raise their awareness on the problems created through uncontrolled deforestation. The Ambassadors from Mongu and Lusaka have also received further training on radio journalism. The Mongu ambassadors are using their radio training skills to create radio podcasts advocating for the creation of a floating school in the area. Apart from group projects, we also have individual ambassadors with remarkable achievements like the story from Ndola Climate Ambassador Jack, who developed a new environmentally friendly fuel which produces less smoke than the widely use charcoal. He met with the Minister of Environment, Tourism, and Natural Resources and after having his business plan selected by the Youth Investment Trust of Zambia, he managed to get a loan to set up his company and has just launched his new fuel on the market this month.
• 6 Newsletters co-written with Ambassadors (ZCCC Times);