“Rising temperatures, rising sea levels and the increasing likelihood of extreme weather will all alter children’s lives and the lives of their own children
The debate about climate change and appropriate policy response is often framed in terms of the likely impact on our children. Children born in 2017 will be 33 in 2050 and 83 in 2100. But how involved are they in this debate?
"Rising temperatures, rising sea levels and the increasing likelihood of extreme weather will all alter children's lives and the lives of their own children. And yet, children are largely left out of discussions about appropriate responses to climate change.
They as well as future generations must be included, as they have a much larger stake in the outcome than current generations," says Goretti Kitutu, the state minister for environment.
Kitutu was speaking at the 4th annual International Children's Climate Change Conference at Kampala International School Uganda. The
"Forecasts suggest that by 2050, the world could see 200 million environmental migrants, many of whom will be children. For this reason and others, children should be central to debates regarding climate change," Kitutu explained.
The conference which attracted over 40 local and international schools saw children debating environmental conservation, while at the same time condemning the ongoing environmental destruction processes like deforestation, swamps and wetland reclamation among others.
Eugene Ndiryabimana from Rwanda challenged the Ugandan government to do more in the fight against environmental degradation.
"I think the Ugandan government should show more action and commitment when it comes to protecting the environment. Am not saying that we are safe, but there is some registered progress in Rwanda, I mean what are polythene bags still doing in Uganda?" the young man wondered, throwing participants in a boot of laughter.
"It is now or never. Research shows that climate change will fundamentally alter Earth's climate system in many ways that threaten children's physical and mental well-being, both directly and indirectly, and it is today's children and the future generations who will bear a disproportionate share of the burden caused by this calamity," Jahlia Ndibalekera from Kampala Parents School said.
Steve Lang, the Director of KISU called on the young generation to conserve the environment through preserving the green. "The future of a better environment is in your hands. Be part of the movement of the protect the environment because you will be greatly affected, if you don't do something now," Lang advised.
Kitutu assured the participants that the government is coming up with tough measures to fight encroachment. "As directed by the president, all people who encroached on swamps and forests are to vacate by July this year," Kitutu said. She later planted a tree and called everyone to plant a tree or more at home.