Posted on 07 June 2016
Climate and youth empowerment leader wins top youth conservation award
Zambian climate leader and youth empowerment advocate Brighton Kaoma has won this year’s WWF International President’s Award for his efforts to educate, and give a voice to, youth about the environment.
The award is the global conservation organization’s top accolade to recognize outstanding leadership in young conservationists from around the world.
Growing up in the heavily polluted mining community of Kitwe, Kaoma started running a weekly radio programme as a teenager to enlighten his community on pollution and how they can protect themselves from climate change.
In 2010, Kaoma became a Child Ambassador for his community with UNICEF’s Unite4Climate Zambia programme. His mandate was to train young people to train others in a ‘pay it forward’ concept on issues of climate change adaptation, mitigation and advocacy through community radio. Kaoma was also appointed Global Youth Ambassador with the Children’s Radio Foundation in June 2015.
“I am very proud and honoured to receive this award and it inspires me to continue working with children, teenagers and communities to address the social and environmental impacts of climate change,
” said Brighton Kaoma. “I believe economic growth is not enough. We need inclusive and sustainable growth that prioritizes the most vulnerable and makes the protection of our planet a real priority. If you empower young people with a voice to speak about what matters to them, we will see a generation of change and ethical young leaders.”
Kaoma, now 22 years old, is studying Environmental Education at the University of Zambia and is a Cambridge University Alumni under the Leading Change programme.
He is also Co-founder and Executive Director of a youth-led non-profit radio and leadership organisation called Agents of Change Foundation in Zambia. This organisation has trained over 200 youth reporters who produce radio shows directed at their peers and the wider community. Agents of Change Foundation utilizes youth participation to tackle climate change and other community issues by giving young people leadership skills, the ability to network with each other, and access to opportunities.
“Brighton is a passionate and dedicated youth leader, a shining light, who engages young people in innovative ways, empowering them to take the lead in sustainable development at community, national and global levels," said Yolanda Kakabadse, President of WWF International. "The leadership of exceptional young people like Brighton has the power to transform communities and societies for the better. What Brighton has done is remarkable and his vision for the future is truly inspiring."
The 2016 WWF International President’s Award was presented in Livingstone, Zambia during the organisation's Annual Conference. The award acknowledges and encourages outstanding achievements of young people under the age of 30 who are making significant contributions to nature conservation. Nominations are invited annually via WWF offices around the world.