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Report: Regional Youth Climate Camp in Benin

Author: Kossi-Messan Jacques Agboka


INTRODUCTION

As part of the fourth edition of the Regional Youth Climate Camp (RYCC) organized by the ADCEJ association, we had the rewarding opportunity to participate in an event of international scope with several other young people. This event was held in Bonou, in the heart of the Ouémé Valley, from July 19 to 23, 2023. Bringing together nearly 150 committed young people from 19 African countries, and two guest countries (United States and Switzerland), this week was entirely dedicated to the fight against climate change and the preservation of the environment. Within this exceptional setting in Bonou, the participants were immersed in an environment conducive to meetings and fruitful exchanges. The diversity of profiles and backgrounds represented has created a stimulating dynamic to address the environmental challenges the world is currently facing. During the Climate Camp, several key themes were discussed, such as the mobility of African youth and green innovations, sustainable waste management, environmentally friendly agri-food processing, as well as the green economy and opportunities for green employment without forgetting eco-digital. Each day has been carefully planned to provide opportunities for knowledge building, experience sharing and collective reflection. In this activity report, we will recount the highlights of this memorable week. We will highlight the inaugural panel led by high-level speakers, the interactive workshops, visits and professional meetings that deepened our understanding of environmental issues and strengthened our determination to act for a sustainable future. Throughout this report, we will share the lessons learned from this rewarding experience, as well as the challenges we faced. Our goal is to testify to the positive impact of this week on our individual and collective commitment to protecting the environment and combating climate change. visits and professional meetings that have deepened our understanding of environmental issues and strengthened our determination to act for a sustainable future. Throughout this report, we will share the lessons learned from this rewarding experience, as well as the challenges we faced. Our goal is to testify to the positive impact of this week on our individual and collective commitment to protecting the environment and combating climate change. visits and professional meetings that have deepened our understanding of environmental issues and strengthened our determination to act for a sustainable future. Throughout this report, we will share the lessons learned from this rewarding experience, as well as the challenges we faced. Our goal is to testify to the positive impact of this week on our individual and collective commitment to protecting the environment and combating climate change.


DAY 1: JULY 19, 2023 - ARRIVAL AND INSTALLATION OF PARTICIPANTS.

The excitement was palpable as the various delegations arrived at the RYCC. The verification session of the participants present was meticulously carried out to ensure the smooth running of the event after the welcome words of the Director of the Camp Mrs. ADAMOU Maimouna, the President of the ADCEJ Vital GBAGUIDI with the effective presence of the Mayor of Bonou Thierry TOLEGBE.

Once the formalities were completed, the atmosphere of the camp was filled with activity as the tents were set up. Everyone was enthusiastically involved in creating a welcoming and comfortable space. These moments of preparation strengthened our team spirit and prepared us for an unforgettable experience at the heart of this week committed to the preservation of our environment.

DAY 2: JULY 20, 2023 - OPENING CEREMONY AND THEMATIC PANELS.

The 2023 RYCC kicked off with enthusiasm with an energizing morning sport, uniting all participants in a friendly atmosphere. The presentation session then allowed to discover the faces from 19 African countries, as well as representatives of the United States and Switzerland.

The thematic panel, focused on "Mobility of African youth and green innovations: what opportunities for communities vulnerable to climate change?", Was a highlight, moderated by researcher crispus DANDAHO and led by seasoned experts and specialists in the field. Mr. Marcel BOTONATI, director of the Youth Volunteers for the Environment (JVE) of Benin, shared the importance of information for the success of our environmental initiatives. Mr. Rodrigue BOGNON, an inspiring Agronomist, highlighted the challenges young entrepreneurs face. Mr. Josea Dossou BODJRENOU, President of the NGO Nature Tropicale, recalled the impact of local action for global change.

The experience sharing session of 2 young Americans on issues related to climate change and the environment in the United States allowed fruitful exchanges on best practices and strengthened our understanding of environmental issues.

The interactive workshops were just as enriching, especially on the green economy and sustainable employment, led by expert trainers such as Bienvenue KADJA. They have equipped us with valuable skills to become agents of change.

We also had the privilege of welcoming renowned speakers during these workshops. The Mayor of the commune of AVRANKOU, Mr. Gabriel GANHOUTODE, inspired the audience with a workshop on sustainable cities, presenting evocative photos and the necessary conditions for sustainable cities. Tinos ANAGO captivated the audience during his workshop on eco-digital, raising awareness of digital pollution and proposing innovative solutions. As for Rodrigue BOGNON, he brilliantly led a workshop on agroecology, sparking enriching exchanges on agricultural practices that respect the environment.

These privileged moments of learning have reinforced our collective determination to act for a sustainable future, inspired by the teachings of experts and driven by our desire to create a positive impact in our communities.

Finally, the exchange and B2B evening was a unique opportunity to meet other actors committed to the fight against climate change, encouraging future collaborations.

This day reinforced our collective resolve to act for a sustainable future, inspired by the teachings of experts and driven by our desire to create a positive impact in our communities.

DAY 3: JULY 21, 2023 - FEEDBACK AND EXCHANGES ON THE CONSTRUCTION OF ECOLOGICAL HOUSES.

The day started with an energizing morning sports session, an atmosphere of friendly competition set in with a football game, an energizing moment that built team spirit and camaraderie among the participants, creating an atmosphere of camaraderie between participants. The activities began with a debriefing session, where the ideas and discussions of the previous day were summarized. The exchange workshop led by Mr. Timothée LOHOU of the ABRIS POUR TOUS structure on the construction of ecological houses was a highlight, highlighting innovative and sustainable practices and the participants were moved by his sharing of experience and did not hesitate to make constructive proposals to sustain the initiative and in the rest of the day we had the presence of the mayor de Bonou. The B2B session allowed inspiring encounters with other committed players. Sharing the experience of young people has strengthened our determination to be agents of change in our communities.

DAY 4: JULY 22, 2023 - WALK FOR CLIMATE EMERGENCY AND SIGHTSEEING.

Day 4, which took place on July 22, was an exciting and action-packed day, marking a turning point in our commitment to the climate emergency.

From the morning, a warm atmosphere reigned at the Camp and the day took off with an exceptional exchange session organized with the manager of 350 Afrique, a unique opportunity to obtain key perspectives and inspiring ideas to intensify our fight against climate change.

But the highlight of the day was undoubtedly the march for the climate emergency. Guided by a common passion, we walked side by side with determination, carrying high our messages of hope and action. The event was honored by the presence of committed personalities, including the inspiring artist Wilf ENIGMA, the mayor of Bonou, Thierry TOLEGBE, and the representative of 350 Afrique, Christian HOUKANOU. Their support has amplified the impact of our message and given us additional momentum to make our voices heard with decision-makers and communities.

After this committed walk, we took a moment to immerse ourselves in the natural beauty of the region by visiting the sacred forest of Bonou, the botanical garden and the quarry of the Ouémé river. This sightseeing tour reminded us of the crucial importance of preserving our environment and our natural heritage for future generations.

At the end of the day, a workshop on the climate notebook was organized in 20 groups, where we were able to deepen our reflections and formulate concrete recommendations and future projects for the countries present at the Camp to act in the face of the climate emergency.

To end this memorable day, we shared an evening of African integration around a warm campfire. This allowed us to forge even stronger bonds between the participants, to share our cultures and our common aspirations for a sustainable future.

DAY 5: JULY 23, 2023 - FEEDBACK,CAMP EVALUATION AND CLOSURE.

The fifth day of the Climate Camp was imbued with intense and sincere emotions, marking the end of this unforgettable experience. As the sun rose for our last day together at camp, we set about cleaning up Camp and tearing down the tents with a mixture of joy at the shared memories and a hint of sadness at the thought of parting ways. The moments of feedback and evaluation were essential to reflect on our collective and individual journey.

Then came the moment of goodbye, full of emotions. Nobody really wanted to leave, but we knew it was just the beginning. We exchanged smiles, warm hugs and promises to continue working to protect the planet.

A moving visit to the palace of the Chief of Bonou His Majesty HOUEZEZOUN marked our hearts, testifying to the impact of our gathering in his community.

The 2023 RYCC has indelibly linked us as committed changemakers. As we left Camp, our hearts were filled with gratitude for this once-in-a-lifetime experience and determination to uphold our environmental values ​​in our respective communities. The journey was over for this fourth edition, but our commitment to a sustainable future continued to shine.


LESSONS LEARNED.

The 2023 RYCC has been a truly transformative experience, leaving us with valuable and profound lessons that will resonate for a long time. We felt intense and sincere emotions throughout the camp, creating authentic and lasting bonds between us, the participants who came from different backgrounds. The practical workshops have equipped us with concrete skills to act as agents of change in our communities. The march for the climate emergency, in the presence of inspiring personalities, showed us the importance of collective action. The emotional goodbyes were filled with the will to continue this crucial fight together, even after the camp. We came away stronger, motivated and ready to make a positive difference in the world.




ENCOUNTERED DIFFICULTIES.

During the 2023 Climate Camp, we faced a few challenges that helped make our experience rewarding despite the difficulties.

First, the fact that the camp was in a village gave us an authentic immersion in a rural environment, but it was not without its adaptation challenges. The living conditions in the countryside were different from what some of us were used to, but it allowed us to step out of our comfort zone and have a more authentic experience.

Second, food options were limited in the village, which was a challenge for some of us used to more food diversity. However, it pushed us to discover new local flavors and appreciate the simplicity of traditional cooking.

Thirdly, the weather conditions presented us with some disturbances. The region's climatic variations have reminded us of the importance of taking climate change into account in our actions for the future.

The first days were a bit difficult for some of


us to adapt to the living conditions in the countryside, but thanks to our team spirit and our solidarity, we overcame these challenges together.

These challenges have been an opportunity to build our resilience, adaptability and ability to work together to overcome obstacles. Ultimately, it helped make our experience at RYCC 2023 even more meaningful and memorable.


RECOMMENDATIONS .

With a view to improving the organization and future impact of the Climate Camp, we make the following recommendations:

1. Communication: Strengthen pre-event communication to generate greater interest and attract more partners from different countries and backgrounds.

2. Diversity of themes: Expand the variety of themes addressed during panels and workshops to cover a wide range of environmental and social topics.

3. Venue Adaptation: Anticipate the challenges of hosting camp in rural or isolated environments and propose solutions to facilitate the adaptation of participants for an unforgettable experience.

4. Culinary Options: Offer more variety of culinary options to meet the dietary needs and preferences of all attendees.

5. Post-event follow-up: Set up post-event follow-up to keep participants engaged and encourage the implementation of the projects and initiatives discussed during the camp.

6. Local impact: Strengthen the local impact of the Camp by involving host communities more in camp activities and by contributing to local environmental projects.

7. Partnerships: Establish strategic partnerships with local, regional and international organizations to expand the influence and reach of the Climate Camp.

By following these recommendations, Camp Climat will be able to continue to inspire and mobilize African youth from here and elsewhere and the youth of the world in the fight against climate change, contributing significantly to a more sustainable future for all. .


CONCLUSION.

The fourth edition of the Regional Camp will remain etched in our hearts as a truly enriching and transformative experience. Bringing together committed young people from various backgrounds, this international meeting was marked by intense moments of learning, exchanging ideas and sharing experiences.

The panel and workshops led by seasoned climate scientists allowed us to better understand climate issues and innovative solutions for a sustainable future. The interactive workshops strengthened our skills to become agents of change in our communities.

Despite the initial challenges of adapting to location and weather, we overcame these obstacles through our collective resilience. The authentic bonds woven between us have created a solidarity that will last beyond the camp.

As participants of the 2023 Climate Camp, we leave with a sense of pride and motivation to make a difference in the world, aware that our collective commitment can help forge a better future for all. We will remain united as agents of change, determined to act with passion and responsibility to preserve our environment and ensure a sustainable future for generations to come.






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