Unite4Climate Zambia was one of UNICEF’s signature child-led advocacy programmes. It partnered with young people in all of the country’s nine provinces to combat climate change and help to empower and inspire thousands of children. Through media programmes, debates, and advocating for the construction of floating schools in flood-prone areas, Zambia’s young Climate Ambassadors are agents of change. Reaching to 200 climate ambassadors each year and equipping them with the “pay it forward” concept, Unite4Climate Zambia was an important effort to make Zambia and the global community more equitable.
Unite 4 Climate Zambia has between 2010-2012 trained over 600 children from all of the country’s provinces. After the training, the ambassadors sensitize their peers in schools and surrounding communities, undertake various environmental projects and have proved to be effective agents of change.
An important element of the programme was the Zambian Children’s Climate Conferences (ZCCC) that were an opportunity for the Climate Ambassadors to engage in an intensive programme filled with presentations from climate experts, thematic discussions, practical skills building workshops, and field visits.
The program was designed to educate ambassadors on a broad range of issues related to climate change, as well as to show practical and simple ways in which they could tackle those issues. Ambassadors were challenged and mentored to design their own action plans and lead climate-related projects and awareness raising campaigns back in their communities.
In between each of the ZCCCs the U4C Climate Ambassadors work to put their action plans into action – as a result, Zambia has witness the rise of a child-led green movement which is growing in all corners of the country.
Climate Ambassadors have led various actions across country. Some examples include:
- Ambassadors from Chipata, Lusaka, Kabwe and other cities have mobilized seedlings and tools from local authorities and have organized tree planting days in their communities.
- Ambassadors from Lusaka have organized litter clean-up days as part of their strategy to raise awareness in the wider community.
- Ambassadors from Kabwe visited communities of charcoal burners to sensitize and raise their awareness on the problems created through uncontrolled deforestation.
- Ambassadors from Mongu and Lusaka have also received further training on radio journalism. The Mongu ambassadors used their radio training skills to create radio podcasts advocating for the creation of a floating school in the area.
Apart from group projects, there have been individuals such as Ndola-based Jack Kafwanka who has scored remarkable achievements by establishing a factory that recycles sawdust to make a new environmentally friendly fuel which produces less smoke than the widely use charcoal. And Brighton Kaoma who partnered with two other ambassadors to start their own organisation (Agents of Change Foundation Zambia) and have received many international awards for their tireless work.
As the lead consultant working on the programme, I coordinated four editions of the ZCCC (Aprill and August 2010, April and August 2011) particularly overseen the training and programme development. I also managed the production and editing of all editions of the ZCCC Times (official United4Climate Zambia newsletter) which was printed and circulated online as well as available at unicef.org website.
In 2011, we decided to invite 20 more experienced Climate Ambassadors to return to the ZCCC and serve as Youth Facilitators, working along the international facilitators to prepare peer-to-peer lesson plans and to run workshops educating new ambassadors. The Youth Facilitators were trained and mentored to take over the leadership and coordinate the implementation of the programme with the UNICEF Zambia team the following year.
For a snapshot of the programme, check out this video with some of the photos from the programme and an special soundtrack with the music created by the Luanshya Girls Climate Change Club specially for the programme.