WASHINGTON—A young Zimbabwean based in New York, Stephen Vunganai, has been selected to head the World Bank’s Africa panel for youths ahead of the crucial United Nations Cooperating Partners (COP21), Paris Climate Summit in France.
The panel will make submissions to world leaders, in particular those from Africa, to prioritise climate change mitigation programs in their budgets.
“We will be putting proposals that will be coming from youth organisations on their drafts to their governments their voices that need to be heard and we are looking at starting initiatives, starting projects to move from gas emissions into the world to clean energy projects especially in Africa,” said Vunganai.
Global leaders are expected to meet in Paris from November 29 to December 14, to negotiate a new global climate change agreement.
Vunganai told VOA Studio 7 global greenhouse gas emissions are the single biggest driver of climate change and its effects are hitting the world’s most vulnerable people first and hardest especially those in developing countries like Zimbabwe.
He said he hoped that when the world leaders meet they will achieve a legally-binding and universal agreement that reduces carbon dioxide emissions and increase funding for poor countries to better adapt to the effects of climate change.
Vunganai said he hopes to engage the Zimbabwean government to prioritise climate change and effect mandatory environmental training for all people in the country.
“We hope that government will accelerate environmental management training in schools and in our communities as well as to teach our people about the effects of deforestation,” said Vunganai.
“Looking at the situation in Zimbabwe where people in both rural and urban areas are now relying on firewood, charcoal and coal due to lack of electricity as their means of energy, it is difficult to tell these people not to cut down trees so these are some of the challenges that we hope the government will be able to rectify,” he said.
The Zimbabwean government recently launched a solar energy campaign in its battle to find a solution to its perennial power shortages. It is believed that the increase in the use of solar energy, residential power usage in the country will be cut by 40 percent.
“Our hope is that the government intensifies its campaign for people to use solar energy and shun firewood, charcoal and coal as these emit dirty gases leading to climate change,” said Vunganai.
Vunganai, who is the leader of Global Youth Foundation Zimbabwe, said all is set for the Paris climate change summit.