Strengthening the role of citizen engagement in responding to the climate emergency
Faced with climate change which affects human activities and lives, biodiversity and natural resources, the adaptation of our territory and the planet remains a major challenge that requires national and international mobilization. International volunteering is a powerful lever for empowering citizens in response to climate and sustainable development issues. Numerous actions and diverse collectives already exist, but it is becoming urgent to accelerate and amplify collaboration between actors and to strengthen the links between existing initiatives, by playing on the complementarity of approaches. And we still need to ensure that citizen involvement carries more weight in the response to the climate and health emergency.
France Volontaires is building bridges between climate policies and youth policies in order to amplify the impact of undertaken actions. The local, national and international volunteers mobilized in this way are facilitators of dialogue. They contribute to amplifying and disseminating innovations and local solutions in various fields for the resilience of vulnerable communities and ecosystems.
In 2019, 126 French international solidarity volunteers were directly involved in environment-related missions, representing 6% of the total number of missions.
An international meeting combining volunteerism and climate issues
The Forum’s annual conference, IVCO 2020, which takes place from 26 to 28 October online, aims, for this edition, to question and improve the action of volunteers around the world to respond to the challenges of climate change. At the end of this meeting, the network plans to produce guidelines and criteria to improve the efficiency of actions carried out by organizations and volunteers.
If you wish to register, here is the link. NB: Participation in the conference is not free of charge.
Volunteers for climate – some emblematic projects:
Projects coordinated by France Volontaires :
EU Aid Volunteers Forests is a project managed by France Volontaires, in collaboration with ESI LABS (Latvia), SRD (Vietnam) and the national offices of France Volontaires in Congo, Guinea, Ghana, Cameroon and Vietnam. It aims to preserve forest ecosystems and reduce the vulnerability of local populations in these five countries. Launched in December 2019, the project will be implemented until December 2021.
Another project coordinated by France Volontaires: TERO (in French : Territoires engagés pour la résilience des oasis) aimed to strengthen the resilience of oasis communities in Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia, in the face of climate change-related risks and through the involvement of young local volunteers. Ended at the beginning of 2020, the project enabled environmental organizations highly committed in three oasis territories to strengthen their capacity to mobilize and support a greater number of local, national and international young volunteers. The partnership – composed of France Volontaires, 3 oasis associations, AOFEP (Morocco), Tenmyia (Mauritania) and ASOC (Tunisia), as well as CARI (France) and FOCSIV (Italy) – conducted training actions, campaigns and a transnational campus for 2 years, mobilizing volunteers from all the countries concerned, in order to provide communities with tools to prevent climate risks.
International Stories in the Centre-Val de Loire Region :
As part of its policy of international cooperation, the Centre-Val de Loire Region, in partnership with the Ligue de l’Enseignement and Centraider and with the support of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has launched an experimental project for the exchange of volunteers in international civic service. Among the 17 missions proposed, several were aimed at setting up environmental education or eco-gestures for young and not so young citizens of the Centre-Val de Loire Region:
- Within the framework of the cooperation between Bourges and Diourbel (Senegal), two volunteers were welcomed in the Bourges town hall departments: Moussa in the water department to assist private individuals in consuming water resources more sparingly and Fatou to work with the inhabitants on the preservation of the Bourges marshes. This exchange is also part of a broader project between Bourges and Diourbel on the joint development of their marshlands in an environmentally friendly approach, also supported by the Centre-Val de Loire Region;
- Aya, originally from Fez-Meknes (Morocco), a partner region of the Centre-Val de Loire Region, carried out her mission at the AAA La Ressourcerie, a resource center in Orléans. She participated in the collection, sorting and reuse of waste into objects that can be reused on a daily basis. Aya was also an ambassador for the energy mission, in order to sensitize schoolchildren to energy savings.
Climate Generation – Fondation pour la Nature et l’Homme
The objectives of the Climate Generation program are to make young people aware of the challenges of climate change and resulting inequalities, to encourage them to become actors of solidarity and to support them in defining and implementing projects in France and abroad. Conceived by the Foundation for Nature and Mankind (created by Nicolas Hulot) and the FORIM (in French Forum des Organisations de Solidarité Internationale Issues des Migrations), and with the support of France Volontaires and IFAC, “Génération Climat” is aimed at young people aged 15-35, particularly those from migrant backgrounds.
On the web and in the field, many tools and various activities are offered to them. From reflection to action, every effort is made to create the desire to act and to promote the implementation of initiatives against climate change.
With YMCA Togo, a participatory vegetable garden for the African youth of Sokodé
Louise Eline is a committed volunteer with YMCA Togo. Her mission is to sensitize youth to eco-citizenship and the environment. She has set up a project to create an eco-friendly vegetable garden in order to introduce young people to bio-agriculture and food self-sufficiency. Food shortages are striking in this country and yet there is no shortage of food. She therefore asked the National Alliance to help her finance her project which aims to empower young people, raise their awareness and train them.
And fresh news has recently arrived: “With the youth of the center, we decorated the fence of the garden and made a sign with paint, to signal the creation of the garden project to the surrounding inhabitants. Now that the vegetable seedlings have started to grow, the young people have put natural fertilizer (chicken and goat manure) at the feet of the plants so that they can develop better! Here, the children have become aware that unlike the chemical fertilizer they are used to using, natural fertilizer such as manure has the same effect and is much less harmful to the environment“. See more
Sustainable fishing in Congo, Morgane’s solidarity project (DCC)
Arriving in the Republic of Congo with the NGO Renatura, Morgane, a volunteer of international solidarity with the DCC, is involved as “Coordinator of the Sustainable Fisheries Program”. As part of her mission, she supports a team of 5 people, fighting through surveillance patrols against illegal industrial fishing. The NGO is a Congolese law NGO aiming in particular to protect marine turtles and their habitat as well as the fishing resources of the region.
“The situation is worrying and fishermen testify to the growing scarcity of the resource. The children and adults of these villages are aware of the threats to marine turtles and the ocean, but also of the role they can play in their protection. This is why the association has an Education and Awareness component that allows us to perpetuate our actions over time by stimulating reflection and a change in the behavior of Congolese citizens. When we see the consequences of the uncontrolled exploitation of these resources, we can only understand the fragility of the ecosystem to which we belong and the interdependence of its elements. The challenges continue to increase tenfold and this encourages me to continue fighting for the most fundamental rights of communities“. Read more
From Reunion to the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) in Mauritius
Annaëlle, a volunteer for international solidarity, was in charge of the environment and climate change mission at the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) in Mauritius from 2016 to 2019. Annaëlle has notably worked on the IOC’s accreditation to the Green Climate Fund (GCCF). She explained: “My objective is to accredit the Indian Ocean Commission to the Green Climate Fund so that the region can benefit from a new source of funding for its projects to combat the effects of climate change. At present, the first big step has been taken: IOC has accessed the Readiness programme, which allows it to benefit from the Green Climate Fund financial support as part of its accreditation process and I am in charge of the activities of this programme. I am also involved in the development of a regional portal on climate change in the region, which will soon be online.” Since then, this goal has been achieved and accreditation obtained. And Annaëlle is now employed by the IOC.
Read her testimonial on « Réunionnais du Monde » (January 2019)
In Nicaragua, Alexis (The Guild) is involved in a climate change adaptation project.
The blueEnergy association works for the resilience of communities on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua: access to water and hygiene, access to clean energy and food security must be improved through agroecology and the implementation of comprehensive climate change adaptation projects. Two international solidarity volunteers from The Guild, Alexis and Helena, contributed to this project in 2019 and 2020. Alexis testifies: “I am in charge of relaunching the “Renewable Energies” program. I am dimensioning, designing, building and maintaining solar installations, whether planned or already installed. Another important focus is the creation of a training program to enable local employees to take over, so that the program will depend less on foreign volunteers.” Read more
You can also read :
- The booklet “Volunteers, all committed to the Sustainable Development Goals – SDG 13 Fight against climate change” (in French)
About France Volontaires :
France Volontaires is the French platform for international volunteer exchange and solidarity. As an operator of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, it brings together the State, local authorities and associations around a mission of general interest: the development and promotion of voluntary and solidarity engagements at the international level. France Volontaires is in 23 countries with its network of volunteering centers, in Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.