For decades, fossil fuels have been the backbone of the global economy, powering homes, factories, and the movement of goods. However, the environmental hazards posed by these traditional energy sources have spurred a global shift towards renewable and green energy, known as the Energy Transition. While Nigeria is among the early adopters of an Energy Transition Plan (ETP), a critical concern arises – the lack of inclusion of citizen perspectives, especially those of vulnerable groups like women and youth.
Recognizing the urgency of incorporating youth voices in shaping the transition, a transformative town hall unfolded in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, on December 14th, 2023.
The event titled “Energizing Tomorrow: Incorporating Youth Perspectives in the Energy Transition for a Sustainable Future,” aimed to redefine the narrative of Nigeria’s ETP. The gathering, held at The Bunker, symbolizing the quest for sustainability, was a one-day exploration of youth insights into the nation’s energy landscape and had in attendance civil society organizations, media professionals, individuals from communities impacted by oil extraction, and a dynamic cohort of youth eager to contribute to the discourse.
Executive Director Tijah Bolton-Akpan set the stage, emphasizing that youth aren’t just the future but present leaders. Speakers like Felicia Robert and Tengi George-Ikoli highlighted the need for cleaner energy, while Ndifreke Patrick envisioned inclusive design and economic growth. Edidiong Dickson, of Policy Alert, introduced the Youth Voices 2060 Project, bridging the gap between youth perspectives and the Energy Transition Plan.
The panel session, deftly moderated by Esther Eyakndue, brought together Ekemini Simon, Evelyn Eyo, and Barrister Lovestic Esu, who wove diverse perspectives into the narrative. Ekemini Simon’s riveting narrative unveiled the profound impact of extractive activities on livelihoods within a host community. He laid bare the pivotal role of media in shaping public discourse, emphasizing transparent communication as imperative for engaging and educating the public and advocating for grassroots involvement.
The call to action reverberated through the venue, echoing the need for sustained collaboration between policymakers, media, grassroots organizations, and legal experts. Key takeaways shimmered with the urgency of youth engagement, media’s responsibility, community-centric approaches, and the fortification of legal frameworks.
But the story didn’t end there. The zenith of this transformative consonance was reached on January 17, 2024, with the launch of “Youth Voices 2060” a new chapter was written. Policy Alert, in collaboration with partners, announced the launch of a national campaign during a virtual event. Edidiong Dickson, Policy Alert’s Programme Officer for Energy, Extractive, and Climate Justice, described #YouthVoices2060 as “a loose network of young people and youth-focused organizations contributing skills, energy, and innovations towards Nigeria’s fossil fuel phase-out and the transition to a clean energy future.”
The outcome statement from this launch event resonated with the urgency of Nigeria’s demographic opportunity, emphasizing the need to transform the country’s energy system in clean and sustainable ways, benefiting both young people and society at large. It pointed out the deficiency in existing policy frameworks, urging the government to review the ETP and integrate youth perspectives in its implementation, especially as the country approaches 2060, its target year to attain carbon neutrality.
In attendance was the Director of Climate Change,Akwa Ibom State Ministry of Environment Mrs Ini Umoh who represented the Commissioner for Environment and Mineral Resources. In her goodwill message she acknowledged that it was necessary for the government to look into the value chain of producing renewable energy appliances in order to make them cheaper. She also pledged the government’s support in this area.
The launch event featured a constellation of several other voices, including Obiageli Onuorah of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), Olumide Idowu, Executive Director of the International Climate Change Development Initiative (ICCDI), Chizoba Nzeakor, a climate and clean energy professional with Zoba Advisory, and Emmanuel Anene, a doctoral researcher in clean energy. Other luminaries included David Arinze, Programme Officer at Diamond Development Initiatives, Lauritta Boniface, Co-founder of Ecocykle, and Richard Umar, Founder of Youth Voyage of Nigeria. The collaboration with the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI) and BudgIT Foundation added weight to this impactful launch.
These events weren’t just a discussion—it was a narrative woven with threads of change. By combining expert insights, youth perspectives, and actionable recommendations, the town hall and the subsequent launch of “Youth Voices 2060” set the stage for transformative changes in Nigeria’s energy landscape.
The commitment to collaboration solidifies the foundation for a brighter and more sustainable energy future—a future where the voices of the youth resonate not just in dialogue but in the implementation of a sustainable and equitable energy plan.
“Youth Voices 2060” serves as a beacon, amplifying youth perspectives in the years to come, ensuring a more inclusive and sustainable energy transition for Nigeria. If this sounds interesting to you, and you would love to come on board, kindly fill out the Google form here: