The following is a statement by 2020 Goldman Environmental Prize winner Chibeze Ezekiel.
By Chibeze Ezekiel
I would like to thank the Goldman Environmental Foundation for selecting and honouring me with the Goldman Prize.
In 2009, I had the rare opportunity to be selected, trained, and certified as a Youth Master Trainer on Climate Change. One of the program deliverables was that participants are to organise a climate sensitization activity in any community of our choice with a small grant support of US$500 each. I did receive my small grant and went ahead to prepare for the event. Interestingly, the chief placed an injunction on the morning of the event, saying that we did not use the appropriate channel of engagement.
This little story is to share how difficult it was for young people to obtain the needed support to embark on initiatives that would even contribute to the national development agenda. However, through consistent and engaged climate activism from the youth perspective in the last 10 years, this is how far I have come.
Youth inclusion in decision-making processes in Ghana has therefore improved significantly, with young people actively participating in climate-related groups, such as the Nationally Determined Contributions, National Adaptation Plans, and Green Climate Fund.
The role of young people in sustainable development cannot be neglected. Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General, said that, “young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace.” And this is exactly what we sought to prove. Young people, given the right support, are capable of profound change and leadership. We therefore cannot talk about the Green Economy Agenda without consciously and deliberately raising Green Champions.
We need your collective support to raise more Green Champions—in Ghana, the US, and around the world! Please support the next generation in fighting climate change and safeguarding the planet. And, as consumers, let us consider diversifying investment from coal and unclean energy to renewables or clean energy.
About the author:
Chibeze “Chi” Ezekiel led a four-year grassroots campaign that prevented the construction of a 700-megawatt (MW) coal power plant in Ghana, effectively stopping the coal industry from entering the country. He is the founder of the nonprofit Strategic Youth Network for Development, the coordinator of 350 GROC, a board member of 350.org, and a participant of the 2020 Climate Reality Leadership Corps. Chi won the Goldman Prize for Africa in 2020.