CLIMATE CAFE 2023 : “Turning Eco-anxiety Into Climate Action”
Author: Mangong Brian
Editor: Harrison Ashangwa
To celebrate Earth Day 2023, the International Student Environmental Coalition Cameroon organized a Climate Café in Yaounde under the theme “Turning Eco-anxiety into Climate Action."
The impacts of the climate crisis in our communities and daily lives are increasingly overwhelming. In the face of these realities, there is rising eco-anxiety, fear and overwhelm especially amongst young people. Fear can drive hopelessness while action fosters hope, at the same time we can truly turn our eco-anxiety into climate action.
Knowing that Eco-anxiety is not a mental disorder or illness, but rather a natural response to a very real and pressing issue, many people who experience eco-anxiety channel their concern into action whether through personal lifestyle changes, advocacy or community action. Recognizing and addressing eco-anxiety is an important step in promoting mental health and well-being in the face of climate change.
The Cameroon Climate Cafe was a community organized space for people to have an open conversation about climate change in Cameroon (including how it makes us feel). It was also a space for individuals and groups to share their experiences and work in addressing climate change and environmental issues across the country. Through this open space, people find inspiration, motivation and create avenues for collaboration in the face of rising anxiety, fear and overwhelm especially amongst young people.
Through open discussions, participants shared and discussed the realities of climate change in their communities and across the country. Many participants shared experience of turning their initial feelings of powerlessness and anxiety in the face of negative climate impacts around them to action.
During the event, participants also discussed their experiences with environmental degradation and the various actions they have taken to address climate change. They highlighted the need for advocacy and raising awareness among the younger generation to promote climate action. Afforestation was also emphasized as a strong tool in ensuring good climates and soil development in various regions.
Participants suggested the use of forest products as a substitute for plastics, the creation of more forest reserves, and the levying of penalties on those found littering the environment. They also discussed the importance of financing other sectors like agriculture to provide subsidiary means of livelihood and reduce dependence on forests and trees. The need for collaboration and partnerships among groups and organizations, which was one of the objectives of the cafe, was also encouraged by the participants, and groups discussed ways of collaborating and working together on various initiatives and campaigns.
Finally the Climate Café provided a platform for young people to share their experiences, discuss solutions, and take action to address climate change. The event highlighted the need for collective efforts to combat the global issue of climate change.
ISEC Cameroon continues to champion and lead climate action initiatives and programs across the country, and seeks to foster collaboration and partnerships among various actors, groups and organizations working to address climate change and environmental challenges across the country.