September 2012: Zambian climate ambassadors visit the Netherlands
By Brighton Kaoma and Tabitha Nkhata, Unite4Climate Ambassadors
We were recently privileged to visit Maastricht, the Netherlands to attend the 2nd Annual Research Conference at the Maastricht School of Management (MsM)
Another major highlight of the visit was that on September 5th, 2012, a day after conference, MsM commemorated its 60th anniversary which was blended with a graduation ceremony of postgraduate students in different disciplines.
The colourful event was graced by Her Royal Highness Princess Maxima of the Netherlands. MsM gave us an opportunity of delivering a speech which was received with a standing ovation from more than 600 participants, among them doctors and professors.
Giving a 40 minute presentation on the impacts of climate change on youths during the Annual Research Conference came as a humble and rare privilege to us. The 2ND Annual Research Conference was held under the theme, “Our Youth, Conflict or Prosperity? Entrepreneurship Challenges for Social Sustainability.”
It covered eight sub-topics which includes:
The conference had two keynote addresses, one given by Prof. Phillip Verwimp, Solvay Brussels School of management, Brussels, Belgium. The other keynote address was given by us! Our presentation focused on the challenges that climate change places on youth with regards to entrepreneurship and social sustainability in line with the conference themes. It highlighted how effects of climate change are affecting Zambia and African youth. The challenges faced by youth in developing countries such as Zambia are worsened by the effects of climate change, as these countries lack the resources needed to adapt to these changes. Floods, loss of biodiversity, an increase in disease prevalence all reduce the opportunities that youth have to make a decent living for themselves. At the same type, youth in Zambia are taking advantage of new opportunities and creating employment for themselves and others through initiatives such as recycling of plastics, providing green energy sources and the like.
We were invited by the Maastricht School of Management because they heard about the work that Unite4Climate (U4C) is doing through UNICEF Zambia Chief, Emergency Ibrahim Conteh and the school asked UNICEF Zambia to select two child climate ambassadors who would present U4C at the youth conference.
While in Maastricht, located in the province of Limburg, we had an opportunity of touring the city. The centre of the city is especially attractive due to its wealth of historical buildings. Care is taken that both new and renovated buildings maintain the period atmosphere of their surroundings. Because of its heritage value, the whole of Maastricht city centre has been declared a protected area, hence a city walk is highly recommended. Another favourite is the 14th Century Gate Helpoot (Gate of Hell) that got its name while it saved as a prison. The district of Maastricht radiates an international atmosphere with an amazing mix of houses, cultural venues, shops, apartments, offices, cafes, and several outstanding art. Vocational training institutes contribute to the artistic air of the city.
After finishing our programmes in Maastricht, we enjoyed a two-hour train travel to the Hague where we met with staff members from the UNICEF National Committee of the Netherlands and a representative from ING Bank. We gave a presentation at UNICEF’s offices on the impact on climate change on young people and the activities of Unite4Climate Zambia -- which is one of UNICEF Zambia’s signature programs funded by UNICEF Netherlands and ING Bank, among others. UNICEF Netherlands invited us to its Annual Braii at Scheveningen beach where we had fun beyond measure.
We are happy that a staff member from MsM will be in Zambia before the end of the year to discuss with us our further involvement in the institution’s projects. We would also like to take this opportunity to thank UNICEF Zambia, UNICEF Netherlands, and MsM for initiating projects aimed at fostering sustainable development not only in Africa but in the entire global community. We are grateful to MsM for inviting us to travel to the Netherlands and share our message of hope for young people.