Young People & Climate Change in Nigeria By Hamzat Lawal

Twenty-first century has been put into a lot of climate change phenomenon causing environmental problems with increase in temperature and unpredictable rain fall leaving millions of people displaced by causing disasters like; Flood, Desertification, Drought, Erosion leading to food security, increase in malaria, loss of agricultural products and forest reserves.

The just published report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) clearly shows that Climate Change is real and was caused by human activities over time while placing Africa as one of the major continent that would be mostly affected.

Women, children and young people bears the brunt the most leaving them vulnerable and displaced in most cases. In 2012, Nigeria witness the worse climatic disaster with flooding taking over more than half of the country affecting the GDP, loss of life’s, properties, infrastructures,  and leaving citizen to fight for the available scared resources available.

Nigeria has always participated in the Conference of Party (COP) meetings, she is a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and took part in the Kyoto protocol that calls for a cut in global greenhouse gas emission.

Till date, Nigeria has no clear policy that address the effects of climate change, with no specific agency of government fully in charge of climate change activities and strategies such as developing mitigation and adaptation measure to enable the populace survive and effectively tackle this menace.

In 2009, a Climate Commission Bill was championed by coalition of civil society organizations at both houses of the National Assembly, the apex body in charge of formulating developmental policies in the country after in-depth consultation and looking at international bet practices. The Bill scale through the both houses, Senate and House of Representative, harmonized by a joint committee of the leadership of both houses and passed by the 6th National Assembly.

As the ‘constitution’ law of the land has it, a Bill must have Presidential assent before it become a law governing the country. The then leadership of the National Assembly forwarded the passed Bill to the President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan in 2010 for his signature to enable this Bill become law and guide the country toward climate change mitigation and adaptation actions as well as addressing the problem while working with various stakeholders including international partners. Up till this moment, we have not heard a word from our President and political leaders on the status of this Bill which seeks to make Nigeria the leading African country taking the lead on climate change issues. This Bill, if passed, seeks to coordinate climate change activities bringing various agencies of government, academia and private sector together.

Nigerian youth represent over 65% of the country’s population, making them strategic in the fight on a workable mitigation & adaptation strategy and action plan for the country. Everyone has a role in climate change mitigation and adaptation, be it student, law maker, journalist, market women, youth groups, religious groups, communities, private sector etc. as the government is in charge of formulating policies, while we all implement as citizens, having school children plant trees, market women reuse their resources and recycle used items, as we are all expected to live an Eco-Friendly life style to protect the planet and contribute to the global environmental campaign toward sustainability.

The youth has taken to use social media tools, mostly Facebook & Twitter to reach out to their peers and contribute towards policy advocacy and airing their opinion on environmental policies and how it impact them as a vulnerable group. The likes of Climate Wednesday and Bailiff Issues, a weekly Tweet-Meet that engage millions of young people across the country on environmental & sustainable development issues which would in turn lead to a climate smart generation while raising awareness on the issue.

As the next COP meeting scheduled to hold in Warsaw in November which is few weeks away, we as young people wonder what is Nigeria’s negotiating position to this global meeting and what our government delegations would showcase as our achievement over the years on climate mitigation and adaptation strategies. We hope this would not be a jamboree for government officials as this meeting would sharpen our future, the global community and countries roles in curbing climate change.


Hamzat Lawal, is an Activist, Climate Negotiator Tracker, currently an Executive with the International Centre for Energy, Environment & Development and Co-Founded the Nigerian Youth Climate Action Network. He has contributed to grass root mobilization in raising awareness on environmental & sustainable development issues as well as policy communications & advocacy and have represented young people in various United Nations conferences.

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