Beyond coronavirus: a youth vision

Young people #Reimagine the future they want after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Isha Jobanputra and Prajna Nayak
Isha Jobanputra,16 and Prajna Nayak,17.
UNICEF Kenya
05 August 2020

UNICEF Kenya asked young people to #Reimagine the future they want after the COVID-19 pandemic. Isha and Prajna are finalists of the 2018/19 Generation Unlimited innovation challenge. Their idea was coming up with a new composite material made from wastes of plastic, glass and rubber which are shred or crushed, melted and mixed in an appropriate ratio to produce a composite. The waste is sourced through a reverse vending system for mutual societal benefit. The material is then used for Gardening equipment, Road Curbing, light poles, sign posts and fencing, window grills.

Quarantine. Curfew. Lockdown. These words are no strangers to us during this time of the COVID-19 outbreak. When will it end? How long until we can travel again? But the most important question is: what will the future have in store for us following this pandemic?

The virus has brought dreadful consequences in terms of health. However, as a ray of sunshine, our strength as a global community has not only been challenged, it has intensified. Thousands are volunteering to help and are being rightfully appreciated. We have seen families spend more time together, a reduction in pollution and, most importantly, a new added value given to nature and the outside world during our struggles to survive this pandemic.

As we think about what the post-pandemic era might look like, we realize that a new definition of normal is gradually being introduced: a better definition.

Take a step back in time to before the coronavirus. The world had many unresolved challenges such as pollution and climate change. Air, water and land pollution meant that billions of people in many countries woke up every day to see smoke-filled skies and filthy water.

As the world came to a standstill, Mother Nature finally got her chance to breathe. The trees have become greener, the skies have become bluer and the air we breathe is much cleaner. Humanity now has an opportunity to ameliorate its future and rectify its past mistakes.

If we get this right, deforestation will turn to reforestation. Societies will be more conscious of the environment, not only through protection but also through conservation. Citizens will appreciate the environment more and reconsider their waste disposal habits. More emphasis will be placed on overall cleanliness and health. Sanitization will be better and more frequent.

This pandemic will offer global leaders new thinking on the topic of climate change: how to enhance the quality of the environment, while also maintaining a good standard of living. We should expect the new normal to include working from home, upscaling our IT capacity and redefining travel and shopping. Scarcity of essentials during this pandemic will change the mentality of the human race, resulting in reduction of wastage. We can expect lower carbon emissions as a result of suppressed demand in all modes of travel.

It would be safe to say that the power of the above actions will have a direct, positive impact on climate change. We can expect a better, healthier climate compared to what our planet has been experiencing.

We, as the youth of the world, are ready to say hello to a newer, cleaner and better planet after this pandemic. Are you?

 

By Isha Jobanputra,16 and Prajna Nayak,17. They are students at SCLP Samaj school in form 5, Nairobi, Kenya.