The 2nd Annual Youth Symposium on Human Rights and Socio – Ecological Transformation Held

By VANESSA CHIWETU

Advocates4Earth (formerly, People and Earth Solidarity Law Network -PESLawyers) in partnership with the Zimbabwe Youth Leadership Training Program Alumni Association (ZYLTP) hosted the 2nd Annual Youth Symposium  to ensure that youths actively participate in Human Rights and Socio – Ecological Transformation issues.

The Symposium held at Cresta Oasis Hotel on 18th October 2019, consisted of 3 panels of speakers who shared well-researched paper presentations with topics: The Laws and Political Economy of Sustainability and Environmental Justice; Biodiversity and Sustainability; and Sustainability, Energy and Extractives.

A Jesuit student in the Department of Philosophy and Humanities at Arupe Jesuit University Harare and former student of the minor seminary of Dutwe, Ruyigi, Burundi Jean Claude Nsabimana said to fight political, social and economic struggles the youth need to join the discussions of sustainable development

“Political, social and economic struggles cannot be alleviated unless the youth get organised to have constructive conversations around the issues they face especially with sustainable development,” said Nsabimana.

To better participate in sustainable development, African youth need to bear in mind that the emerging economies and developments in Africa are all geopopliticised and geostrategised whereas their capabilities are depoliticsed added Nsabimana.

Land distribution is a major concern among the youth who are advocating for a fair land distribution a case study of Chiredzi District Ward 18 cited by councillor Gilbert Mutubuki of Ward 18 Chiredzi constituency.

Councillor Mutubuki said land is important as it is a symbol of wealth as such young people need land to use for different projects

“Land is important in Chiredzi, it is a symbol of wealth. War veterans are grabbing land while young people need land for different projects. We need to pressure government to implement different policies concerning equal land distribution,” he said.

The symposium also focused on Environmental and Climate Justice with Advocate4Earth founder and director Lenin Chisaira pointing out the need for people to assess environmental impact and laws before conducting business

“I believe everything in the environment has a right to live on its own hence there is the need for most people to assess the environment before they conduct business,” said Chisaira.

Human activities such as building infrastructure and houses, cutting of trees for energy supply are the main cause of climate change and global warming.

Environmental change and International development researcher Trish Gombe said degradation of wetlands facilitate global warming through government and city council main concern for development while affecting the environment

“The degradation of wetlands facilitates global warming and climate change. The government and city council are more concerned with development and economic growth whilst affecting the environment that is destruction of wetlands,” said Gombe as she presented on lack of harmonised protection of wetlands in Harare.

Wetlands can be protected through practicing fish farming in wetlands and making sure wetlands are not disrupted thus reducing climate change.

Lack of energy supply in rural areas is the main cause of deforestation noted Sheq consultant and former environmental officer Kudzaiishe Seti

“Rural areas are often deprived of clean energy supply in different parts of the world. This leaves the rural dwellers with no option except to relay on solid fuels which damage the environment as trees are cut down leading to deforestation,

“Critical to me, to ensure that rural areas get clean energy  is to change settlement patterns (scattered settlements) which make rural electrifying costly and exemption of duty on solar related material such as solar panels, solar batteries and solar inverters should be fully implemented,” said Seti.

Advocates4Earth Trust aims at reflecting their role as environmental, climate and wildlife legal advocates representing hundreds of Zimbabwean, Sub-Saharan Africa and Global South communities, species, environmental activists, researchers, lawyers, volunteers and affiliates.

The first Annual Youth Symposium was held on the 18th of December 2018.

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