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“I feel the pain of climate change in my day-to-day life”

Young African climate activists demand attention from Heads of Government meeting in Kigali 

A group of young African climate activists, religious leaders and entrepreneurs are working together to raise the urgent issue of climate finance to their country delegations this week at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda (June 20 to 26).

Tearfund, a Christian international development charity, is supporting this group of activists who have written an open letter calling on the leaders of wealthy nations in the Commonwealth to rebuild trust with climate-vulnerable communities.

Fredrick Njehu, Tearfund senior policy advisor on climate, said: “Back in 2009, wealthier nations promised to deliver $100 billion a year by 2020 to help communities adapt to the impacts of climate change, build resilience and invest in a sustainable future.

“At the Glasgow climate talks (COP26) in 2021, this commitment – by then already a year late – should have been fulfilled but the leaders of wealthy nations failed to deliver.

“As a result, poorer countries are still paying the price of a crisis they did not cause, and the financial burden on these countries will grow as climate change intensifies.

“This meeting brings together the leaders of some of the wealthiest and some of the most climate-vulnerable countries, and is an opportunity to rebuild trust on climate finance. It’s time for wealthy nations to deliver.”

The open letter calls on Commonwealth leaders to:

1. Rebuild trust with climate-vulnerable nations by ensuring that there is full delivery of the promised $100 billion annually, including 50% for adaptation
2. Ensure that finance reaches local communities on the frontlines of climate change
3. Invest in good green jobs for youth

Collins Lungu, 26, from Lusaka, Zambia, heads up the Zambia Youth Environmental Network, a group of young people who are campaigning for climate change and environmental care, protection and justice, he said: “I feel the pain of climate change in my day to day life. Coming from a family of farmers I can see how climate finance could help with irrigation systems so we can adapt.

“The weather has become so erratic, even the meteorological station can’t predict what is going to happen. The previous farming season we had floods that destroyed crops in some parts of the country and droughts in other parts.

“This has caused high levels of food insecurity amongst the poorest families and malnutrition in children. My family and I will have to buy food from the markets which are now getting more expensive than ever affecting our livelihoods. More and more families do not have enough food to eat and are having to make tough choices to secure food.

“People have to change, we will need to adopt alternative plants resilient to climate change, world leaders need to hear our stories.”

Climate activist Jessica Bwali, from Lusaka in Zambia, added: “Wealthy countries must deliver on climate finance. Growing up, my father was a farmer and today I am experiencing the impacts of climate change first hand.

“We used to have every type of crop and the rainy season was always on point, we knew when to plant but it's not the same now because of drastic changes in weather patterns.

“In Zambia we rely a lot on agriculture and not everyone can afford to use irrigation on their farms to help crops grow in tougher weather conditions, this is exactly where climate finance could help.”

Tearfund is calling on the UK government to use the rest of its COP presidency- which lasts until November 2022 - to influence other wealthy nations to deliver the overdue finance to communities on the frontline of the climate crisis. You can add your support by signing our petition at www.tearfund.org/timetodeliver

ENDS

For further information or interview requests call Mel Barnston 07929 335 146 or for out of hours media enquiries please call 07929 339813.

Tearfund is a Christian charity that partners with churches in more than 50 of the world’s poorest countries. We tackle poverty through sustainable development, responding to disasters and challenging injustice. We believe an end to extreme poverty is possible. Tearfund is also a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee. For more information about the work of Tearfund, please visit www.tearfund.org.

Notes for editors- background on activists

Jessica Bwali Country: Zambia

Jessica Bwali is a journalist from Zambia. She is also a keen climate activist. Jessica has worked as a newscaster, radio presenter, voice-over artist and producer for United Voice radio in Lusaka, Zambia. Jessica has also worked on Pan African Radio (Lusaka) and Solwezi Radio (North-Western province). She completed a media officer internship with the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) in Germany.

Jessica's climate campaigning work has taken her to Glasgow's most recent COP26 climate conference. She was an African ambassador to COP as part of the Methodist Church's delegation to COP26. Jessica is also a young people's regional leader of the 'Climate Yes' network. Jessica is a certified Climate Activist with The University of Oxford Climate Society.

Lungu Collins Country: Zambia

Lungu Collins is from Lusaka and leads the Zambia Youth Environment Network (ZYEN). ZYEN works with network members and stakeholders to achieve climate action in Zambia. In particular, it targets young people in all ten provinces of Zambia to be part of the Renew our World (Country) Campaign.

The movement has run several 'environment and climate boot camps' across Zambia. These events help young people understand the importance of climate change and seek to mobilise them into action. Most recently, the movement has sought to lobby the African group of negotiators to COP. They seek to ensure youth voices are heard in the climate debates.

ZYEN also reaches out to national media in Zambia. It is currently producing a TV show outlining the work of its movement.

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