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Environmental education and sustainability principles in schools’curriculum very vital-Climate expert

In celebration of the 2023 United Nations International Youth Day, young people worldwide are championing the theme “Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World.” This year’s focus underscores the pivotal role that youth play in driving sustainable development through the acquisition of green skills, marking a significant step towards addressing global environmental challenges.

Green skills, which encompass knowledge, competencies, and expertise needed to tackle environmental and sustainability issues, are emerging as a catalyst for positive change.

As the world grapples with the impacts of climate change, resource depletion, and ecological imbalances, the integration of green skills into education systems and vocational training programs has gained prominence.

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In the light of this, SOLACEBASE reached out to a climate consultant, Umar Saleh Anka with inquiries as part of the day’s commemoration.

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QUE:  How do you believe acquiring green skills can empower young individuals?

ANS: “I think it’s no longer an option for young people to acquire skills, especially with climate change affecting jobs in developing countries and Asia. Green skills are the skills needed to tackle low crop yield due to the impact of climate change, therefore helping young people acquire green skills can increase their chances of finding jobs, and lift them out of poverty making them control their future.

QUE: Can you share an example of a successful youth-led initiative that demonstrates the practical application of green skills in creating a more sustainable community or environment?

ANS: “There were many green skills projects that were conducted successfully in Nigeria through non-state actors I know of the GEF Small Grants Project in some parts of the country providing local solutions to local problems by providing young people with training and small grants to support the initiatives. I know of a young lady in Ogun if I’m not mistaken who excels in Beekeeping and forest conservation. These are the kind of interventions that NGOs should be putting their energy into to empower the younger generations. Some examples include SGP supported Innovative extraction of bio-gel from moringa oleifera to address land degradation and food security in Oyo State, drying of vegetables using solar panels developed by students of tertiary institutions.”

QUE:  In your opinion, what steps can educational institutions and governments take to ensure equitable access to green skill development, particularly in underserved and marginalized communities?

ANS: “The marginalized groups are already at a disadvantage, therefore, institutions of learning should embark on mass skills acquisition programs, especially to their host communities, this will serve a corporate social responsibility.  Institutions of learning are now supporting green entrepreneurs in their curriculum to reduce unemployment in the country, places like NBTE have gone far in training young persons on skills acquisition across the country.”

QUE: With industries increasingly embracing sustainability practices, how can young people with green skills drive innovation and contribute to shaping a more environmentally conscious workforce and economy?

ANS: “Acquiring new skills that will make them employable will go a long way in making them self-reliant and economically viable, Young people constitute the larger percentage of the global population so their role in developing the economy is paramount and will help in bringing peace in every region either at national, sub-national level.”

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The importance of education in nurturing these skills cannot be overstated. Formal education systems are being called upon to incorporate environmental education and sustainability principles into their curricula.

Such a step will equip young individuals with a deeper understanding of the delicate balance between human activities and the natural world, enabling them to contribute to solutions that promote economic growth without compromising the environment.

However, challenges remain in ensuring equal access to green skill development. Disparities in education and opportunities persist, particularly in marginalized communities.

This issue calls for collaborative efforts among governments, educational institutions, and organizations to provide resources, scholarships, and mentorship programs that bridge the gap and create a level playing field for all youth.

As International Youth Day is observed, the spotlight is on the younger generation, their potential, and their commitment to building a more sustainable world. By empowering them with green skills and supporting their initiatives, society can take a significant stride towards a harmonious coexistence between human development and ecological preservation.

As we celebrate their accomplishments, let us collectively pledge to foster an environment where young voices are heard, their skills honed, and their dreams of a greener, sustainable world transformed into reality.

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