Networking for the future

Students from around the continent work together to create the African Youth Voice manifesto. (Generation Earth)

Students from around the continent work together to create the African Youth Voice manifesto. (Generation Earth)

The vibrant youngsters driving Generation Earth are working to take the voice of the African youth across the world.

They want to ensure the future world is one in which they are happy to live.

Describing itself as "a green networking platform with the youth, for the youth, by the youth", Generation Earth is at its most basic level a network of students trying to make the world more sustainable.

This work starts at the organisation's office in Johannesburg, where the focus is on lowering its ecological footprint.

JoJo tanks harvest rainwater, which then goes into watering their gardens and food garden. It is also used in cooking, which they try to avoid by eating raw food.

One meal a day is meat-free because meat needs more resources to make. And for a few months each year the whole team switches to a vegan diet.

To switch off the grid, their laptops only get plugged in once a day and social media does all communication.

Keeping the process in check is an annual carbon footprint test, and working with partner organisation Reliance Organic Compost to make sure they are carbon neutral.

This is a challenge because Generation Earth is about networking. The constantly growing network is approached by schools, which it helps to set up cells. These then move out into their neighbouring communities, teaching people to be more sustainable.

What sets this apart is the democratic structure, where each part of the web has a say in how things are done. Each year a youth summit is held, where new leadership is elected.

This keeps the mix of fresh ideas bubbling over. And it means energetic young leaders are always ready to ascend to the highest platforms to talk about their issues.

The organisation held its first summit before the COP17 climate change summit in Durban two years ago, where it was addressed by thought leader Trevor Manuel and water guru Anthony Turton.

A platform for what the youth wanted from the global climate meeting was taken from the summit and presented in Durban.

This inspired a bigger meeting the next year, where 200 students from around the continent gathered under the Generation Earth umbrella before the Rio+20 earth summit. They created the African Youth Voice manifesto.

Ella Bella, its co-founder, has a simple drive behind what she does: "The youth will inherit the world, so we need to have a say in how it's run."

This has seen her meet Nelson Mandela and address the United Nations General Assembly. It is this kind of simple and focused idea, driven by energetic people, that can really push politicians to do something to secure the world young people will inherit.

It is a project that embodies the forward-thinking vision and dedication to creating a better world for all championed by Sudley Adams, former co-ordinator of the Greening the Future Awards.

Adams passed away last year, but her life ambitions live on in Generation Earth.

 
Sipho Kings

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