Basotho Youth are sleeping

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By Nicole Tau

Lesotho’s Youth has been accused of being bystanders of injustices perpetrated against them that promote climate change while they are the most affected but do nothing and have abdicated their duty.

Mantopi Lebofa, a founder and Director at Technologies for Economic Development and committee member of the National Climate Change sub-committee Outreach, who has been advocating for climate change for the past 15 years argues the youth can do more than they are doing.

“You are watching silently as this country is getting degraded by the consequences of climate change caused by human activities. What will you rule over when it is your turn to lead this country?” Lebofa said to her stunned youth audience attending the United Nations Conference of Youth (COY16).

The uneasiness witnessed by KDNews in that conference room could have been cut with a knife; however, these were shared thoughts during a first-of-its-kind Lesotho Climate Change Youth Dialogue organized by United Nations Climate Change Conference of Youth (COY16), held on October 18th at Kick4Lfe.

KDNews learned that the UN Climate Change Conference of Youth (COY) is an event held by YOUNGO, the official youth constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). COY is a platform for youth capacity building and policy training in preparation for their participation in Conference of Parties (COP).

KDNews learned that the most significant outcome of the COY event is to produce and establish a position paper or a policy statement that will eventually reflect the voice of the youth in the UN Climate Negotiations (COP26).

The COY16 attracted climate change and environment activists, concerned youth, and various stakeholders from the government sector, civil societies, and non-profit organizations who gathered to discuss climate change in Lesotho, the country’s adaptation and resilience, climate change literacy, biodiversity, and nature-based solutions.

COY16 was sponsored by United Nations Lesotho with the support of the British High Commission Lesotho.

It was also announced that the COY16 country’s two coordinators made history as they were the first representatives of Lesotho at COY level.

Thabo Mahamo, climate change activist, Environmental Educator, and co-founder of Makholela Environment and Cultural Organization (MECO), and Letsatsi Lekhooa another climate change activist, YALI SA alumni member and Keep Lesotho Clean Ambassador, are the two Country Coordinators representing Lesotho at COY16.

“As the Youth we have to stand up strong because this is a serious threat to us and our future. Who is going to inherit all this degraded land… it’s us. We are the leaders of tomorrow,” said Reekelitsoe Molapo, a representative for Youth4Climate, environmental activist and co-founder of Conservation Music Lesotho.

Molapo said in her presentation that Basotho youth must be capacitated, creative, inclusive, organized and informed about current climate change policies in order to be able to participate in the battle against climate change for a better and brighter future.

Representatives from organizations such as the Smallholder Agricultural Development Program (SADP), the Global Water Partnership (GWP), and the World Food Program (WFP) Lesotho came forward as well to educate their audiences on the initiatives that their companies have undertaken to include youth and address the needs of the Basotho youth within the climate change and agricultural spectrum.

One organization that has been on the frontlines towards mitigation measures against climate change and land degradation has been SADP whose objective is to increase the adoption of smart agricultural technologies in Lesotho’s agriculture, enhance commercialization and improve dietary diversity among targeted beneficiaries.

“At SADP we ensure youth preference in matching grants programs.  You would be glad to know that out of 68 grants that were awarded in mountainous districts, 24 percent of them were youth,” said Tsotello Lebete, Climate Smart Agriculture Manager.

Although it was strongly encouraged during the event that Basotho youth be proactive, many acknowledged that the National Youth Dialogue was a fantastic first step in engaging the youth to become proactively involved in efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change.

At the end of the dialogue, the material gleaned from the discussions will be compiled into a Youth statement, which will be presented to the government delegation attending the well-anticipated 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from October 31st to November 12th.