Every year on August 12th, the world comes together to celebrate International Youth Day, recognising the importance of young people in shaping the future of our society.  This day serves as a reminder of the potential and power that lies within our youth to bring about positive change.  The theme for this year's International Youth Day is "Green Skills for Youth: Towards a Sustainable World," highlighting the critical role of young people in building a sustainable future. 

In today's rapidly changing world, the need for sustainable practices has become more urgent than ever.  Climate change, environmental degradation, and resource depletion are pressing issues that demand immediate attention.  Developing green skills among the youth is crucial for equipping them with the knowledge and tools necessary to address these challenges and create a sustainable world.  Green skills encompass a wide range of abilities and knowledge related to environmental sustainability, renewable energy, conservation, waste management, and sustainable agriculture.  These skills enable young people to understand the interconnectedness of social, economic, and environmental factors, empowering them to make informed decisions and take responsible actions.

Photo credit: Peter Okwoko, Takataka Plastics, Uganda

While International Youth Day provides an opportunity to recognise the potential of young people as catalysts for change and to foster their engagement in sustainable development, Governments, educational institutions, NGOs, and communities should work collaboratively to provide platforms and opportunities for youth to develop and apply green skills. Through education and training, we can play a pivotal role in shaping young minds and fostering a culture of sustainability. Schools and universities should integrate environmental education into their curricula, promoting awareness and understanding of sustainable practices from an early age. Additionally, vocational training programs can equip young people with specific green skills needed for various industries, such as renewable energy, sustainable construction, and waste management. 

Young people are often at the forefront of innovation and entrepreneurship. Encouraging and supporting youth-led initiatives that focus on sustainable solutions can have a profound impact.  Among many other organisations, Agripreneurship Alliance promotes innovation and entrepreneurship among the African youth through our flagship Entrepreneurship in Agribusiness course that runs two cohorts every year and with 229 students in the current cohort from 10 universities in 5 countries across Africa.  Apart from offering entrepreneurship training, the Alliance also helps its participants and alumni find funding by sharing funding opportunities from Governments and organisations around the globe, providing mentorship, and networking opportunities to help young entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality, fostering a culture of innovation and sustainability.  Read about our impact stories series that is ongoing here

As we know that International Youth Day serves as a reminder that young people are not just the leaders of tomorrow but also the changemakers of today, may we also be reminded that by investing in their education, empowering them to innovate, and fostering collaboration through creating avenues for youth participation in policy discussions, we can harness the immense potential of youth to address environmental challenges and build a greener, more sustainable world. Let us celebrate the enthusiasm and dedication of young people on this International Youth Day and commit to supporting their journey towards a sustainable future. 

Sheila Mary Bahonya, Agripreneurship Alliance 

12 August 2023

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