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18 August 2011: Third Zambian climate change conference underway

© Children's Radio Foundation
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Environment, and Natural Resources, Peter Mumba, addressing the ZCCC3 opening ceremony.

By Adrian Mapulanga and Nina Callagha, Climate Ambassadors

LUSAKA, Zambia, 18 August 2011 – Nearly 300 children from all of Zambia’s nine provinces have gathered for the third Zambian Children’s Climate Conference (ZCCC). 

The morning of the ZCCC3 launch saw snaking lines of new climate ambassadors register and receive their welcoming packs. Togged out in bright green t-shirts, a bag made of colourful recycled plastic, stationery, and an enquiring mind, some 300 Climate Ambassadors sat down for the official opening. They were addressed by senior Government and United Nations officials, who applauded their efforts to be educated and spread the message of climate change reduction advocacy and HIV and AIDS prevention.

Peter Mumba, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources, emphasized how children and women are most affected by our changing planet. In his opening address he said, “Climate Change affects children and women disproportionately yet they are left out when it comes to decision making.”

It’s a fate that Adrian Mapulanga isn’t going to accept.Adrian is an 18-year-old Climate Ambassador from Lusaka Province and is in grade 12 at David Kaunda Technical High School. He was given the opportunity to take the podium and deliver a vote of thanks on behalf of his fellow Climate Ambassadors. In his speech, he outlined the need for child-centred advocacy around climate change and HIV and AIDS.

“Our wish during the ZCCC3 is to acquire knowledge about our climate, the environment, and HIV and AIDS. To acquire the skills needed to engage and inform our communities about climate change, to speak out and represent the concerns of young people. Most of all we are here to share ideas and inspire young people through raising awareness and taking action to prevent and reduce the effects of climate change and HIV and AIDS in our communities, country, and the world at large.”

Adrian says the opening ceremony set the tone for the rest of the conference and helped focus the climate ambassadors’ minds around the issues they would be tackling over the rest of the week.

ZCCC3 is an event of the Unite4Climate Zambia program, a UNICEF child-led advocacy initiative. UNICEF Representative Dr. Iyorlumun J.Uhaa also addressed the delegates, stressing the importance of peer messaging. He said, “The Zambia’s Children’s Climate Conference aims to transform how climate change education is conducted by incorporating hands on skills training and encouraging children to work together to come up with solutions that they would like to bring to their schools and communities. UNICEF endeavours to not only teach about climate change, but to empower children to become climate change peer educators and to be key players in the fight for local and national solutions.”

Empowering young people with the tools and skills to get their voices heard, is the idea that powers the Children’s Radio Foundation (CRF). As a Unite4Climate Zambia partner, CRF has been hosting radio trainings during the conference’s communication sessions. Their focus has been to impart the technical aspects of making radio broadcasts so that the climate ambassadors can share theiropinions and messages of change. After just an hour and half of intensive training, climate ambassadors stepped boldly into their new roles as youth reporters, sharing and recording each others’ reflections.

With such a dynamic start to ZCCC3, the Zambian climate ambassadors are poised to be empowered as new resources for their communities. “I am the vice president of Unite4Climate at my school, so I’d like to get as much information and ideas as possible from the sessions on climate change, HIV and AIDS, and life skills to be able to teach my colleagues at school. I’d also like to help in my community where there is a problem with waste management. Chingola used to be the cleanest town in Zambia, but its not anymore,” said Climate Ambassador Ginoh Vibetti.



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