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Bridging the Gap
"The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it" – Robert Swan (O.B.E.)
by Donna Reynolds
Many people view the risks of climate change – and therefore the benefits of reducing them – as uncertain and geographically distant, occurring mainly in the future, when it will not affect them personally. We all know about climate change and the risks we face because of it. However, as we continue living our lives in our own unique and familiar climates, we struggle to understand and relate to what is happening so far away in the freezing South Pole – where the effects of global warming are most evident.
It is vital that we "bridge the gap" between ourselves and our planet so that we feel the urgency we need to take action. Bridging this gap is the primary mission of the 2041 ClimateForce organisation, which is currently hosting an expedition to Antarctica in March 2022. Led by renowned polar explorer Robert Swan, the expedition aims to develop and train leaders to go off into the world as advocates for the Antarctic and polar regions – and therefore as advocates for climate action – and to positively impact their communities, institutions, companies and governments for the benefit of the planet we call home. The expedition teaches its participants that "there is no better teacher than the immediacy of 'being there", allowing them to experience first-hand what it truly means to say that "the ice caps are melting".
It is essential that we educate the youth about climate change and sustainability and provide them with the skills and knowledge that will help them to educate better, motivate and inspire those in their communities to act. With the abundance of mountains, beaches, forests, deserts, and rivers in Africa, we have many treasured ecosystems that depend on a stable climate. Many populations depend on these ecosystems for their habitats and livelihoods. However, climate change and ecosystem degradation have created major water shocks and significantly caused the rapidly growing African population's food insecurity and drinking water scarcity. Due to water-related climate change impacts, Africa's rainwater-based agriculture experiences severe and more frequent droughts and loss of harvests. As a result, millions of people are affected by droughts that result in food insecurity and water supply shortages.
Educating, engaging, and empowering the youth and the next generation of leaders to take action will enable them to become ambassadors for climate change and protect their environment and livelihood. By taking action to combat climate change, we can protect the land, crops, infrastructure and water that people depend on for their livelihoods – by reducing the risks of rising temperatures from global warming, droughts, flooding, soil erosion and the rise in global sea levels. By protecting our environment and the livelihoods that depend on it, we can ensure that progress is made in reducing poverty worldwide – the most significant challenge we currently face as a population. The SDG Centre for Africa is collaborating with all the stakeholders in assisting African countries in reducing the climate change impact, with the ultimate goal of protecting and preserving the environment.
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