Young Kenyans are emerging as a powerful force in the global movement for environmental conservation and climate action. From innovative upcycling projects to grassroots initiatives, these young individuals are leading the charge to protect their country’s natural heritage and combat the challenges posed by climate change. Through various avenues, they are inspiring others to join the cause and make a significant impact.

Youth are setting today’s consumption trends and will be tomorrow’s decision-makers.

Garrette Clark

One shining example of this commitment is the Green Generation Initiative, spearheaded by Elizabeth Wathuti. This visionary organization tackles critical issues like deforestation, climate change, and environmental injustices. By nurturing young environmental enthusiasts, the initiative empowers them to take meaningful action on climate, hunger, education, and sustainable land use. Wathuti’s leadership has ignited a spark in the hearts of countless youth, prompting them to actively engage in preserving the environment and shaping a sustainable future.

In addition to local endeavors, young Kenyans are aligning themselves with global movements such as Fridays for Future and Greenpeace. The vibrant spirit of these movements resonates strongly in Kenya, with the official page for Fridays for Future Kenya declaring their unwavering commitment to combating climate change: “As the oceans rise, we rise too.” Through organized events and impassioned protests, these youth are raising awareness about the pressing need for urgent climate action, catalyzing change on both local and global scales.

One organization that stands out in encouraging youth participation in environmental conservation is Yflab. Through a multifaceted approach encompassing online and locally-based skill development programs, bootcamps, youth media, environmental action, and digital inclusion, Yflab is equipping young Kenyans with the tools and knowledge they need to drive positive change. By fostering a sense of empowerment and purpose, Yflab is cultivating a generation of environmentally conscious leaders who are poised to make a lasting impact.

The innovative spirit of young Kenyans is vividly embodied by George Onyango, a 23-year-old entrepreneur with a unique vision. Troubled by the sight of deforestation caused by furniture production, Onyango set out to transform discarded metallic oil drums into eco-friendly furniture pieces. Under his brand Jus Drum Furnitures, Onyango crafts bespoke seats, tables, and shelves, showcasing a perfect fusion of artistry and sustainability. His venture not only promotes environmental conservation but also generates employment opportunities, while igniting creativity and innovation among his peers.

Tumiso Mathenge, another young environmental activist, amplifies the call for government leaders to provide stronger support for community-led conservation efforts. In an eloquent opinion piece published by The Nature Conservancy, Mathenge emphasizes the collective responsibility of all Kenyans to safeguard the nation’s natural heritage. Her advocacy underscores the critical role that youth play in driving transformative change and holding leaders accountable for the preservation of the environment.

The government of Kenya is also demonstrating its commitment to addressing the impacts of climate change. In a significant stride, a USD 34 million project titled ‘TWENDE’ (Towards Ending Drought Emergencies) was launched in March 2021 under the Green Climate Fund. This five-year endeavor aims to mitigate the economic toll of climate-induced drought by implementing an ecosystem-based adaptation project in Kenya’s Arid and Semi-Arid rangelands. This initiative reflects a comprehensive approach to confronting climate challenges head-on and underscores the government’s recognition of the youth’s pivotal role in shaping the nation’s sustainable future.

Garrette Clark, Sustainable Lifestyles Programme Officer at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), aptly captures the essence of youth involvement in environmental conservation: “Youth are setting today’s consumption trends and will be tomorrow’s decision-makers.” As the world welcomes a new generation of consumers, predominantly young, to urban settings, collaborating with youth to establish sustainable living practices becomes imperative. Youth-driven initiatives, like those led by young Kenyans, are pivotal in establishing a new norm of sustainable lifestyles that prioritize the well-being of both people and the planet.

In conclusion, the youth of Kenya are emerging as trailblazers in the realm of environmental conservation and climate action. Through innovative projects, grassroots initiatives, and active participation in global movements, they are spearheading transformative change. Organizations like the Green Generation Initiative and Yflab are instrumental in fostering youth engagement and empowerment. As these young individuals continue to make a tangible difference, they inspire others to join the movement and collectively shape a future defined by environmental consciousness and sustainable practices. In the face of daunting challenges, the young Kenyans remind us that it is never too early or too late to contribute to safeguarding our planet for generations to come.

Willy Kamau