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Namibia: 'Involve Youth in Climate Issues'

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Irene !hoaës

Windhoek - The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah, has said it is important to involve the youth in matters of climate change "because you, the young people will be living with the impact of climate change much longer than we will have to live with it", Nandi-Ndaitwah told Namibian youths, who gathered in Windhoek over the weekend for the Climate Change Adaptation Conference.

Climate change is mostly blamed on human activity such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation, as well as the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.

"Climate change is a reality. Just think about the recent flooding in the northern and southern parts of our country and the effect this had on school-goers and the economy," the minister reminded the young people.

In addition, she said the youth conference on climate change is befitting as 2010 and 2011 have been marked as the "international year of the youth".

As a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the minister said the country is obliged to promote cooperation in education, train and create public awareness related to climate change.

Nandi-Ndaitwah said government is committed to developing its evidence-base to take long-term actions for the climate change adaptation and mitigation and has commissioned climate projection studies to learn more about climate change effects.

"Young people need to be brought closer to those strategies, as at the final analysis, they are the ones to implement the funding," she added.

Over 70 percent of the Namibian people are younger than 35 years.

Nandi-Ndaitwah said climate change activities cannot be halted but the severity of their impact can be lessened, hence Namibians must adjust to climate change for sustainable development.

She noted that the country should formulate more solutions to climate change and test different solutions, while taking note of lessons learnt and communicate them.

"And this is what this two-day climate change youth conference is all about. We want to know the views of the youth on possible adaptation measures Namibia can use against climate change," Nandi-Ndaitwah said.

She said young people can be more innovative and energetic than grown ups and can come up with brilliant ideas.

The minister said her ministry would like to see the conference come up with a National Youth Action Progamme for Climate Change Adaptation that would provide broad principles on actions that should be taken so that the youth can become key actors in climate change.

"Namibia will continue to actively participate in international negotiations on climate change. Our national position is informed by the UNFCCC, the Kyoto Protocol and the Bali roadmap," Nandi-Ndaitwah told the young people.