In March 2017 Groundwork/Friends of the Earth South Africa hosted a cross-regional learning meeting as part of the Friends of the Earth International Erasmus project. Young Friends of the Earth Africa and Young Friends of the Earth Europe took part in the meeting in Durban, South Africa

The Erasmus project brings together Friends of the Earth youth from Africa and Europe to strengthen the Youth Environmental Justice movement, both within Friends of the Earth International and externally with Youth Social and Environmental Justice allies.

This project is also an opportunity to strengthen relationships across Europe and Africa and support the active engagement of young people in decision-making.

Bobby Peek, Director of Groundwork, spoke at the meeting, explaining that inclusiveness is a fundamental principle of Friends of the Earth International. Young people need a deeper knowledge of movement building in order to participate in much of the work of Friends of the Earth International.

Youth need to collectively identify creative strategies to enhance the engagement of diverse youth groups.

“The future belongs to young people. Therefore young people need to critically reflect on the particular role they can play in struggles against injustice. They need to speak with a single firm voice through the environmental justice movement. And come up with suitable thematic campaigns that will help the struggles in their individual organizations”

Peruth Atukwatse, NAPE

Peruth Atukwatse, Youth projects coordinator, represented NAPE at the meeting. The National Association of Professional Environmentalists/NAPE started a Youth Movement for Social and Environmental Justice in Uganda in 2016. The movement’s aims are:

  • Supporting youth involvement in decision-making processes at all levels
  • Participation of young people in international fora to share experiences and deepen their knowledge on environmental justice issues, to enable them to advocate the social growth and environmental sustainability of their communities
  • Mobilize 7,000 youths by 2018, build their civic competence, inspire and motivate them to increase their inclusiveness in promoting and building pressure for good governance in natural resources
  • To promote social and economic empowerment for the youth in Uganda

NAPE believes that once young people are in the driving seat, they can drive the change Nape and its global allies are struggling to achieve without them. Society sometimes has a negative perception of the young, which means young people disengage from social, economic and political processes and feel powerless to bring about sustainable change in their communities. NAPE stands in solidarity with young people as they demand social and environmental justice.