By John Mokwetsi
Harare, Zimbabwe – Nkosilathi Nyathi looks back on his journey to environmental activism with great pride. He traces back to the day he stood in shock at the garbage dumping site in his community in Victoria Falls and on the other end there were gullies caused by erosion that had now severely damaged agricultural lands and caused soil loss.
“I was only 11 years old and in Grade 5 at Chamabondo Primary School in Zimbabwe when I started to notice those gullies that had now deepened and were a danger to children in the surrounding neighbourhood. Subsistence farming is also important to my community and it was disheartening to see the arable land disappearing,” Nkosinathi recalls.
“That is why I became the leader of our environmental club at my then primary school. The environment is our life. Issues to do with climate change are very close to what I advocate for.”
The environment is our life. Issues to do with climate change are very close to what I advocate for.
Since then, Nkosinathi has amplified the call for government to look at environmental issues and climate change in particular. This is the reason that UNICEF selected him to attend the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) in Madrid, Spain. The event is taking place from 2-13 December, 2019.
Every year, world governments meet to negotiate their commitments in the fight against climate change at a summit attended by heads of state, business leaders, and civil society.
As part of this summit, UNICEF is hosting a series of side events featuring experts and young delegates, who will discuss how to best meet the climate challenge.
“Spain is a big opportunity for me, not only because I love Real Madrid Football Club, but because I have a story to tell and an agenda to push. I was never good in sports but I am a good public speaker. Being an environmental club leader came naturally to me,” Nkosilathi said beaming in confidence.
The young environment activist added that he wanted to take a closer look at how the world was dealing with issues of air pollution and waste management.
I was never good in sports but I am a good public speaker. Being an environmental club leader came naturally to me
“I read that there is more evidence of the impact of climate change, especially in extreme weather events, and these impacts are taking a greater toll. The science shows that emissions are still going up, not down. So COP25 gives me a chance to understand from all those gathered on why we are taking time to implement earth saving initiatives,” he said.