Susty Person of The Week – Chinma George
Chinma George has evolving experience in research on climate change in Africa. She is an environmentalist whose areas of interest includes but are not limited to climate change, youth, sustainable development, agriculture, and education and gender equality issues.
She holds a BSc. degree in Economics and an MSc in Environmental Management. Ms. George speaks and presents technical papers at various conferences and meetings of the United Nations and the African Union. She has worked with Climates Paris as part of the waste management team, a global youth research ‘think and do tank’, and also conducts capacity building on climate action to students in high schools and universities. She volunteers with HEDA Resource Center and is part of the founding members of Clim- Dev Africa Youth Platform (ACLYP) a joint initiative of the AU, AFDB, and UNECA. She is the principal consultant at ClimFinance Consulting. Recently she was a climate witness at Oxfam Germany.
We discuss with Chinma on her Climate witnessing journey, her future plans and thoughts on Climate Change Mitigation in Nigeria.
What does it mean to be a climate witness?
Educating and enlightening people all over the world, on what climate change is and how it has affected communities and countries, with a specific focus on Nigeria and Africa. It also means giving my personal experience of how climate change has affected me. Taking, for example, the impacts of climate change in Nigeria; like flooding, increase in vector-borne diseases and food insecurity.
What has your journey in this space been like?
In my experience so far, I have had the opportunity to compare witnessing to children in Oshodi as against witnessing to children in Montessori schools in other highbrow areas of Lagos, and I have been able to identify different perceptions of climate change. My foray into climate change has been a constant learning process and I have been privileged to meet so many distinguished Africans both young and old that are passionate about environmental sustainability and the SDGs. I started as a researcher on climate change, narrowed my focus to climate finance, youth, agriculture and have also been engaging in climate activism. I recently campaigned against big coal industries like RWE in Germany to keep coal in the ground. It would not have been possible without mentors, family, and colleagues who believed in me and kept pushing me to greater heights which has enabled me to work in close proximity with international organizations and NGOs such as Oxfam Deutschland and UN.
How would you assess the Nigerian government’s preparedness to mitigate climate change?
I would say the government has very ambitious goals, looking at the Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) to the Paris Agreement. The Nigerian government is willing to reduce emissions by 20% with foreign aid and by 45% without aid, other mitigation goals include; to stop gas flaring by 2030; 30% energy efficiency by 2030; improve electricity grid; reduce emissions from several sectors such as agriculture and energy. The government also has a lot of initiatives that they are part of, like the great green wall and Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN REDD+). In my opinion, Nigeria still has a lot to do, because of the increasing rate of desertification and drought in the North, afforestation has to be made a priority. There is great potential for renewable energy such as solar in the Northern Nigeria.
On the recently launched green bonds, what are your thoughts and hopes for Nigeria?
To fund mitigation and adaptation projects on climate change climate finance is necessary. Most of these projects are very capital intensive and developing countries don’t have such funds. Nigeria has taken a bold step with the issuance of green bonds, which will have many positive returns. It will attract investors, most especially from the private sector which constitutes the main donors to the climate finance pool. It is also a mechanism to fund Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions. I hope the proceeds will be able to fund renewable energy projects and that also it will be utilised as it is proposed to do.
Why should young people be at the forefront of fighting climate change?
The future is ours. The former secretary-general of the United Nations said we are the last generation to fight climate change. The generation that caused climate change will not be around to experience its impacts. Young people have to stand up to protect the environment for themselves and their children, the African continent is the youngest with about 60% of the population being youth.
What are your other interests?
Talking to children in my Sunday school about how to make the world a better place, by inculcating little habits and actions to reduce their carbon footprint and conserve natural resources. Helping less privileged has been something I have done since I was a child, with so many people being displaced as a result of climate-induced conflicts I hope to enlarge my reach of charity to them.
Where do you see yourself in next 10 years?
Impacting more lives in the world and helping the poorest of people.
What are your favorite SDGS and share some of your ideas on how they can be achieved?
SDG 1: No poverty;
SDG 3: Good Health and Wellbeing;
SDG 5: Gender equality;
SDG 8: Decent work and Economic Growth;
SDG 13: Climate Action and
SDG 17: Partnership for the Goals.
Climate action is most important to me because climate inaction exacerbates already existent challenges like poverty, inequality and decent work. In order for the goals to be achieved partnerships and collaborations have to be implemented and put in place.
What kind of things can the general public start doing to help climate change mitigation or adaptation?
We need to create more awareness, plant more trees, include climate change education in our school curricula. People can also start using renewable energy like mini solar panels to reduce carbon emissions.
How can people reach you or learn about your work?
twitter: @Chimz_green, @ClimfinanceC
Facebook: 1Chinma George