Earth Hour 2018 - place to the youth!
Last Saturday, March 24, Madagascar joined some 180 other countries in the celebration of the international event "Earth Hour", as it has been hnown since 2010. Beyond the act of turning off the lights for one hour, which in Madagascar always arouse a mocking smile – as power outs are common! - it is above all an opportunity to raise public awareness of the effects of climate change and to mobilize individual or collective action to deal with it.
This 2018 edition, with the slogan "Mitsitsy mba haharitra", aimed to sensitize Malagasy families about the daily use of energy saving stoves or other ecological cooking alternatives to save our forests. A fatana mitsitsy or energy saving fireplace reduces the amount of charcoal used for cooking by 40 to 60%. For a household of four, and at the current price of charcoal, it would save about 90,000 Ariary a year. For the forest, it is nearly 10 trees saved per year. 98 out of 100 Malagasy use charcoal or firewood (kitay) for cooking ...
The young people of Toliara, Morondava, and other cities were not left out. They offered their time, their ideas, their arms; some like these young photographers, put their talent at the service of the planet, all without asking anything in return. Last Saturday, the young people showed us the way. They led the march for the Earth with their boundless energy and enthusiasm; they took the microphone to express their concerns for their village, their city, their country, their planet, their future. Pollution, waste, degrading nature, indifference, ignorance, that's what they denounced. But these young people have also shared concrete solutions, whether through the use of saving homes, recycling, action through volunteering, social entrepreneurship, mutual aid, education and awareness of their peers and others. The value does not wait for the number of years you have, it is said, and it was well confirmed this Saturday during Earth Hour!
According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Madagascar has an "extremely young" population. About two-thirds of our population is under 25 years of age (64%) and nearly half of them are under 15 years of age (47%) (UNFPA, 2017). Young people are not only the future of the country, as we often like to say; they are indeed his present. To think and act without them today would be like half-thinking and acting with one arm and one leg. It is not only their numbers that will make young people strong, but above all their energy, their dynamism, their creativity and their optimism.
So let's give this youth the means to express themselves and act, open them the doors of our institutions, invite them to our workshops, listen to them not in the somewhat condescending way - as we often do at home between "raiamandreny" and "ankizy", but as equals, recognizing with humility that we, the youngest, have much to learn from them.
I hope and ask them to never keep silent, to never be afraid or ashamed of their youth, to stand up for themselves, to constantly question the established order and world around them. It is these young people that the planet needs.
Country Director - WWF Madagascar