JVE On the occasion of the 20th Anniversary NGO Young Volunteers for the Environment (YVE), organized an international press conference around key environmental challenges. The Executive Director, Mr. Sena Alouka, addressed the government calling for recognition of the 23rd November as a National day in favour of education on environment and sustainable development. This comes just after the recently concluded COP 26 « where global leaders renewed their commitments to reducing carbon emissions. During the press conference Mr. Alouka reiterated the importance of having a strong citizen movement in the face of climate crisis, loss of nature and biodiversity, poverty and a loss of livelihoods. For this to happen, he said, « there is need to accentuate the education and training of citizens on key ecological and social values and practices and provide the right information, tools and skills that will facilitate ecological conscious actions ».
While proposing for a National day of education on environment and sustainable development, Sena Alouka called the government to accelerate actions on the transition to Agroecology, promotion of renewable energy and restoration of natural ecosystems as some of the key actions towards fighting climate change.
In the presence of the Director of the National Agency for Environmental Management (ANGE), Mr. Koffi Efanam Adadji, and other invited guests from government and other organizations, Sena Alouka called for the national day to pay special attention to the environment evoking the provision of the Togolese constitution in articles, 35 and 41 which stipulate that every citizen has the right to a quality education that allows him to be a responsible citizen and to live in a healthy environment.
JVE’s engagement in the transition to Agroecology
As part of national and regional networks like AFSA (Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa), and PNAFAT, JVE is on a mission to sensitize, educate and train communities and local authorities on agroecology best practices in support of this transition, as it pushes for the ratification and implementation of the drafted National Strategy for Agroecology and Organic agriculture. According to Sena Alouka, agroecology has been identified as a solution to climate change, food crises and other threats to agriculture in the country. « 60% of the African population depends on agriculture. However, this sector is highly threatened by challenges such as climate change and Africa’s agricultural potential remains untapped. Agriculture, which is one of the main development sectors anchoring the country’s economic growth, is today facing serious challenges in terms of land degradation and ownership, loss of biodiversity, reduction of production capacity and rapid loss and extinction of local seeds that impact our culture and food sovereignty.
Agroecology takes all of this into account by proposing practices that take into account local cultures, nature conservation and nature-based practices that help restore the quality of the land while increasing the quality of production and ensuring that a variety of foods reach and feed communities, » said the executive director of the NGO JVE. According to him, agroecology, contrary to the pessimistic debates, can ensure food security for the populations. « Not only will people harvest quality agricultural products, but the quantity of production will increase due to the improvement of soil health and the use of nature-based practices, » he said. For agro-ecology to be adopted, Sena Alouka believes that young people as well as governments must play a very important role.
« Youth must take the initiative to build their future, so it is important that resources are made available to them to strengthen their knowledge and capacity to take leadership in innovation and invention, which will promote the effective adaptation of practices that build community resilience for climate change adaptation and mitigation. There is great potential for youth employment in this sector and Africa can gain a lot by tapping into this potential, » he says. In addition, NGOs can accompany community groups in raising awareness, training and sharing experiences on sustainable practices. Meanwhile, the private sector can invest more in agro-ecology and agro-ecological products and create a market that will encourage and support local actors in the sector. Government and local authorities will need to ratify and implement pro-transition policies, encourage local production and consumption, and create an enabling environment to recognize agroecology as one of the key practices needed to mitigate climate change. It will be crucial for the government to take a strong stance against chemical agricultural inputs and short-term solutions.
During its 20th Anniversary celebrations, JVE showcased agroecology products from the Center for Studies and Training in Agroecology (CEFA), a center initiated by JVE to support communities with tools and resources a necessary to facilitate agroecology transition.
In addition, a display of local foods and drinks from various regions was served to guests as a sign to valorise local production and consumption and pass a strong message as concerning cultural diversity and food sovereignty a key aspect of agroecology.
Beyond the 20 years of Youth Action
Taking stock of its 20 years of existence, JVE is positive that its impact on youth across Africa will only be enhanced.
“We are happy to have initiated the largest youth environmental movement in Africa. We are happy to have experimented with a management approach that allows youth to be at the forefront of decision making, especially in environmental governance. We are also pleased today to have succeeded in creating a platform that has allowed many young people to realize, to discover their missions and work alongside the state to make the earth, a planet better for us all, « said Mr. Sena Alouka who emphasizes that this success is due to 3 main elements including « perseverance, determination and a little stubbornness”. JVE continues to be a resource organisation for young people and will forge forward in engaging young people in building resilient communities.