Uganda is facing unprecedented environmental challenges to an extent that the current environmental management efforts can not reverse the trend in the nearest future. The purpose of the study was to investigate the importance of the youth in Uganda’s environmental conservation efforts. The study sought to explore the possibility of adopting a youth approach to environmental management in Uganda. It also sought to determine whether the youth are critical in understanding and addressing Uganda’s environmental challenges. Data was collected through reviewing of documents and field studies. The study revealed that improved performance in environmental management can be achieved if, inter alia, more social forces especially the youth are mobilized for environmental protection.
The youth matter in environmental conservation planning and management; as agents and victims of environmental damage, as well as potential strategic partners in environmental conservation. This is mainly on account of their numerical superiority, concentration in rural areas, overwhelming dependence on natural resources extraction and the fact that they are the first of the future generations. Currently, however, almost all environmental conservation actors are unaware of the importance of the youth in environmental analysis, planning and management. Consequently, the youth are not treated as a critical stakeholder group in environmental management.
This can however be reversed if the government of Uganda ratifies the African Youth Charter which would lead to main streaming of youth in environmental management. The impression in the World Development Report 20017 that the youth are not critical in ensuring environmental sustainability ought to be urgently corrected. The National Environment Management Authority can and should adapt its relevant practices with an objective of main streaming youth in environmental management, without necessarily waiting for government to ratify the African Youth Charter. NEMA should also spearhead the production of data on youth-environment nexus. Non-governmental organizations that focus on environmental conservation should find it useful and possible to integrate youth in their activities. Government youth structures have a national scope and grass-root depth that makes them potentially effective in mass mobilization of the youth for environmental conservation. They therefore need to include promotion of environmental sustainability in their activities. Lastly, it is up to all youths and youth organizations to advocate the implementation of the recommendations in this paper by the relevant stakeholders.
Researched and compiled by:
Mr. Anthony Twinomugisha