A cross section of participants at the event.
By Itoro Bassey
In commemoration of this year’s International Youths Day celebration, the Clement Isong Foundation (CIF), a non-governmental organisation, on Wednesday, August 23, 2023, trained youths on green skills .
The symposium, held at Uranus Hotel, Uyo, was organised in collaboration with ActionAid Nigeria and funded by DANIDA to equip the youths with invaluable “green skills” that will empower them to flourish amidst the challenges of climate change and environmental disruptions.
Participants drawn from various local government areas of the state, including Oron, Ikot Ekpene, Ibesikpo Asutan, and Etinan, convened alongside government officials, private sector leaders, community groups, youth influencers, and organizations such as De Joseph’s Society, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), and Enactus, University of Uyo; and they discussed the vast opportunities presented by the Green Transition.
Green skills encompass a wide range of knowledge, abilities, values, and attitudes necessary to thrive in a sustainable and resource-efficient society. These skills cover critical thinking, scientific understanding, practical expertise, long-term vision, crisis management, cultural appreciation, adaptive thinking, and the art of storytelling, among others.
At the occasion, some of the recognised challenges of green skills said to have been embraced by young people in Akwa Ibom State were discussed. They include lack of clarity regarding career paths, attitude issues, limited interest, financial constraints, and a shortage of mentorship and training resources.
However, the symposium’s participants were assured that the state government would establish structures to enhance awareness, mentorship programmes, and capacity building.
The youths were also encouraged to utilize online platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram to amplify their advocacy for green skills and equip themselves with the necessary tools to embrace a greener future.
Similarly, the youths were urged to develop their communication, creative (storytelling and writing), leadership, and technological (AI and ICTs) skills, as well as explore the realms of artistry (handcrafts and hair making) and green marketing (online marketing).
Officials from government ministries and various stakeholders enlightened the participants about government initiatives and policies that can empower the youth to contribute to the state’s socio-economic growth.
In her keynote presentation on, “Green skills for Youths: Towards a sustainable world”, Mrs. Ini Umoh, a director in the Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Environment, expressed her eagerness to collaborate with young individuals in combating climate change and emphasized the importance of volunteering for green transition and community development.
With the guidance of facilitators such as Mr. Akpan Ikim, Chairman of the Akwa Ibom State Environmental Protection and Waste Management Agency (AKSEPWMA), and Comrade Udeme Ubom, the State Chairman of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), the youth were inspired to shape a sustainable world and embrace the challenges they face as opportunities for personal growth.
Mrs. Priscilla Udoh, Head of Sustainability and Livelihood at ZOWASEL Nigeria, who shared her inspiring journey of volunteerism, shed light on the profitability of sustainable agriculture, particularly in oil palm and cocoa plantations.
Mrs Udoh said she would partner with the Clement Isong Foundation to establish green clubs to ensure the planting trees in schools and other areas in the environment.
She offered to provide guidance and organize free training programs for individuals interested in palm fruit plantation, in addition to connecting those interested in the nursery aspect of agricultural plants to ensure that everyone has access to the knowledge they need to succeed.
Another facilitator, Mr. Ante Solution, enlightened participants on the world of renewable energy projects, and the potential for young people to make money from solar energy.
He offered to personally negotiate with participants interested in solar training, with a special focus on renewable energy projects aligned with the federal government’s subsidy removal palliative.
Mr. Ubong Mathew, the director of Plasticultured Community, who shared his expertise on waste management and recycling entrepreneurship, stressed the importance of adopting a green mindset, viewing waste as a valuable resource that can be transformed into countless other products.
Mr. Mathew urged participants to think creatively about sustainability in every aspect of life, from manufacturing to transportation and to consumption.
The resource persons also discussed government’s commitment to green skills and opportunities for youth even as they highlighted the establishment of policies to support young people in building a sustainable future, as well as the creation of the Ministry of Internal Security to further engage the youth.
Representatives of the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports also assured participants of mentorship opportunities and access to relevant budgetary provisions for empowerment and entrepreneurship.
Responding, the participants made several recommendations, including the separation of youth funding from sports budgets by the government and called on waste management agencies to prioritize their services.
The youths were also encouraged to advocate for change and take advantage of training programmes on rural communities and waste management.
The symposium concluded with the appointment of green skills ambassadors, entrusted with the task of raising public awareness and implementing programmes that will positively impact the society and ensure prosperity for all.