Climate action: Local ideas can change everything

By Ikenna Ugwu, Enugu

Outside of our homes is the actual home we all live in, and preserving it for future generation is more crucial than ever – Anonymous.

All over the world, young people are taking initiatives, creating local solutions to global challenges. And usually, the impact generated is attributed to small but purposeful acts. These simple acts inspire a ripple action capable of changing the world, if sustained.

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Do not think that you need to do something big or extraordinary in order to solve the world’s biggest problems. There is enormous power in little acts of acts and services pulled together. It is these little acts that make most meaningful impact. Small, intentional acts of goodness pulled together, is a proven practice that is transforming the world.

This is one of the guiding principle for Green Environment Network, Enugu (GRENE). GRENE is a network of motivated young sustainability and environment activists based in Enugu Sate, Nigeria inspiring and mobilizing youths to take actions to reduce the impact of climate change on the planet.

Why take actions?

Human activities are daily releasing more and more gasses such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and water vapor into the atmosphere.

These let in sun’s light but keep some of the heat from escaping. So, we have more gases trapped in the atmosphere thereby strengthening the greenhouse effect and increasing the planets temperature.

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Uwani Boys Secondary School, with no single tree in sight

The impacts of climate change extend well beyond rising temperature. Things we value and depend on such as water, energy, transportation, agriculture, wildlife and human health are all experiencing the effects of changing climate.

An estimated 7 million people die each year from causes related to air pollution. Food supply depend much on climate change and weather conditions, and although agriculture is now experiencing adaptable practices, factors such as increase in temperature, diseases, water stress and weather extremes create still challenges for farmers whom we rely on for food.

Rural farmers are still bemoaning floods sweeping crops away, pests infesting and ravaging farmlands and eventual paucity in harvest. They do not yet know or understand that there is a cause. They are not aware that the fault could be theirs: tree cutting, deforestation, indiscriminate waste disposal and all. We need to democratize climate and environment information, and again, that’s what GRENE is doing.

Human health remains vulnerable to climate change. Carbon-polluted environment and changing weather cause poor air quality and increase diseases transmitted by insects and rodents respectively.

It has become imperative to plant more trees in our environment to release more oxygen that absorb carbons trapped within the environment. We can escape all these, if we take necessary action. Thankfully, GRENE is leading the charge.

Climate change is no hoax nor fiction and reversing the impact demands global emergency. There is really no planet B for anybody, just one. Interestingly, young people across the world are rising up to the challenge, raising their voices, asking governments to match words with action to implement the Paris Agreement demands. Young people, with needed support, possess requisite energy and creativity to reverse potential catastrophe.

This is what GRENE is doing in Enugu state, galvanizing youths to stand up to the challenge of protecting and preserving the earth. In spite of the many frightening and disheartening stories everywhere, it is not all doom; young people are busy daily healing the earth!

Hope in sight: Green Schools Project

GRENE founder, Dr. Daniel Ugwu guides girl child to plant tree in her school.

GRENE is in an unstoppable haste to create a clean, safe and sustainable environment in Enugu state. Green School Project is GRENE’s new initiative designed to plant 1000 trees in 50 public schools across the state this year. The Network is leveraging its robust volunteer base to execute this great social impact project.

The journey already began.

Hoping to maximize impact, earlier in the month of March, GRENE engaged in project mapping, identifying relevant public schools in the state that lack trees. The Network consequently reached out to authorities of the identified schools to share project ideas and intentions and establish communication strategies that will facilitate the process.

The exciting journey began in April, 2021. “With our motivated volunteers, we have successfully reached three public schools – including New Haven Primary School, Government Technical College and Uwani Boys Secondary School – planting four trees in each. And the beautiful story is that those were economic trees – avocado, mango and orange”, says Dr. Ugwu, founder of the Network. How beautiful to see that while helping to protect and preserve the environment, the Network is providing schools with opportunity to enjoy fruits with multiple benefits.

Climate Clubs: catching them young!

GRENE Founder, Dr. Daniel Ugwu (middle) right, and GRENE Volunteer Coordinator, Ikenna Ugwu (middle left) with and students ready to lead the Climate Club.

Reaching these schools and planting tree may be a worthy course. But that is not enough. It is important that the school and students take ownership of the project. Dr. Ugwu explained that one of the interesting thing about engaging in the Green School Project is how they engage school children to take climate actions with fun.

He said the Network has been able to organize climate club in each school visited as a sustainability strategy to light the candle of growing children and create platforms that help them protect and preserve their environment.

As we prepare to commemorate World Environment Day, it is hoped that it will not be a jamboree but a call to action, to encourage activisms that lead to climate action. Already, GRENE is leading the way and evidently remain committed to environment and climate education. Change is possible!

Extras — Clean-up initiatives

GRENE joins Green Axis in clean-up excercise.

Green Environment Network, in partnership with Green Axis, a fast growing recycling company in Enugu organizes monthly cleanup exercise. They equally use the platform to engage in waste management and environmental consciousness awareness. Every month the partnership mobilize volunteers for this event as part of effort to ensure a clean and safe environment thereby reducing climate change.

Onboarding: integrating new volunteers

GRENE has a tradition of hosting its new volunteers to an onboarding experience, usually to properly integrate them into her system and have them understand its vision. The Network believes that her environment and climate advocacy are both strategic and intentional and insist that volunteers need to have full understanding of the reason they do what they do. Understanding the “why”, the impact possible and change that their contributions can make is important in the entire experience. It is one sure thing that can sustain the passion.

In line with this, in April 24, 2021, GRENE hosted a Meet and Greet event to effectively integrate new volunteers into the Network and familiarize with other members. It was an opportunity to expose them to the vision and mission of the network while helping them understand our volunteering perspective.

Ikenna Ugwu is a social impact writer, social development advocate and volunteer coordinator for GRENE.
Contacts: +234806535368; tweets @Drevscourt email via iykman247@gmail.com

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