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First Person: ‘Youth Won’t Stay Silent’ Says Madagascar Climate Activist


Young people around the world “won’t stay
silent” about the global climate crisis according to a
youth activist from Madagascar.

Marie
Christina Kolo, who describes herself as a climate activist,
ecofeminist and social entrepreneur, was one of two young
people who spoke to the UN Secretary-General, António
Guterres ahead of International
Mother Earth Day
marked annually on 22 April.

She
expressed her concerns, about the dual impact on the Indian
Ocean island of the COVID-19 pandemic
and the ongoing climate crisis:

“Climate change
didn’t stop with COVID-19 and that’s true of my country,
Madagascar. The current pandemic has taught us
lessons”.

Global cooperation

The first one is
that global trade requires global cooperation. In developing
countries like mine, we were able to receive lots of
donations and support from the international community. It
was also a good opportunity for us to prove again, our
traditional solidarity and solidarity among
countries.

However, the question we face is how can we
promote healthy water and sanitation initiatives like
handwashing, which play a part in defeating the virus when
three out of four people in Madagascar don’t have access
to clean water and sanitation services?

How can you
promote these initiatives when there are droughts and floods
which are related to climate change?

So, we need to
focus on climate actions that are relevant in terms of
increasing access to water, for example, rehabilitating
wetland areas.

Climate-smart

We need to learn
how to focus on climate-smart agriculture. We need to learn
how to be self-sufficient in food production, to depend less
on tourism and trade.

The second lesson for me is
important as well. When we think about support, we need to
consider climate change adaptation and resilience. Health is
one of the key areas of adaptation, so it’s a perfect time
to invest in health infrastructure and in human
resources.

COVID-19 also disrupted the supply chain,
so that’s another area for countries like mine to
consider.

Last but not the least, COVID-19 relief and
recovery investment must address the disproportionate ways
in which women and other marginalized populations have been
affected.

UN
Photo/Manuel Elías | UN Secretary-General António Guterres
holds a virtual conversation about climate action with youth
activists Paloma Costa from Brazil (left on screen) and
Marie Christina Kolo from
Madagascar.

Biodiversity

I
think my country’s biodiversity has been put at risk
during the pandemic, because, you know, in this context,
where people are suffering from poverty, they go to the
forest to just find a way of living.

Here most of the
poorest people, depend on natural resources; 80 per cent of
the population of Madagascar live in rural areas.

They
only think about their daily life; they can bring food to
their families from the forest. So, when you talk about
biodiversity in this pandemic, we are looking at a crisis in
terms of protecting our natural habitat.

At this time
of crisis, it’s really a big challenge for us to mobilize,
to bring awareness to people that we need to protect these
natural resources, that we need to find a balance between
our livelihoods and protecting the natural
world.

‘We have a voice’

I keep saying
that I’m optimistic because more and more young people are
trying to promote a greener economy, and to prove that we
don’t need to exploit these natural resources too
much.

I want to say that the youth won’t stay
silent, we have a voice, and we will be heard and that we
need to be included in decision-making. We need to do it
first at the national level. We can work together, we can
share best practices.

So, I take this opportunity to
call on all the youth movements around the world to work
together to bring
change.

© Scoop Media

 



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