Interview with climate change environmentalist, Paul Lodry

"If nothing is done to reach sustainable development in 2030, we will be in an international apocalyptic era. There is no second earth."

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?540ec5e0e7c7e026c7e75cd57f8d49615a6994fa.jpg

My Name is Paul Lodry DONGMO, I’m 26 from Cameroon, working as the Head of Environment and New Deal for Nature and People Department for African Network of Young Leader for Peace and Sustainable Development (ANYL4PSD). Additionally, I’m volunteering in the Global Coordination team of YOUNGO(Young and NGO at the UNFCC), United Nations for Environment Program Major Group for Children and Youth (UNEP MGCY), Loss and Damage Youth Coalition, “Reseau Eau et Climat d’Organisation de Jeune d’Afrique Centrale”, Global network on Disaster Risk (GNDR), “Réseau Afrique Climat-Carbone” and I’m a member of Future Leaders 

Tell us a little about your background?

I’m an environmentalist specialising in climate change. I studied a Bachelor degree in Geophysics and Environment and a Master degree in Occupational Health, Safety and Environment. Additionally, I received a certificate of proficiency as Green House Gas Inventory expert from the Green House Management Institute after achieving several climate sciences and negotiation classes on other climate-related topics such as disaster management, biodiversity, waste and chemicals, and international environmental policies.

What inspired you to become a climate activist?

I spent most of my childhood in Yaoundé, a city located in the centre of Cameroon with an average altitude of 1000 meters. Back then, the city’s height provided a cool climate. Progressively, the environment changed, and the city became increasingly hot. 

My family owned land where we practised agriculture, and there was a water-well which I saw dry up throughout the years. When I travelled in the western part of the country to pursue my university studies in 2013, I noticed that the river near the family house in the village had narrowed in a short time. Residents used this river for drinking water, but were no longer able to. Even rainwater, which helped in cooking and drinking, became black and dangerous for health. In the search for an explanation, I collected weather data in the locality and dealt with some researchers. 

We discovered that there is climatic variability in the west region of Cameroon and that fresh water and the practice of agriculture were impacted. After this assessment, I discovered some agricultural lands were abandoned during one of my scientific expeditions due to the lack of water resources for all farmers. That’s when I decided to become a climate activist, founding the Cameroonian student’s association for environmental justice and gathering more than 100 Cameroonian students. 

What’s your biggest concern with the climate?

My biggest concern regarding the climate is that despite the multiplication of extreme climatic events and slow onset impacts – especially in sub-Saharan Africa – people and governments still decide to look for their geopolitical and imperialist interests, financing the arms race and space projects for the search of life and exoplanets. But the scientific results are clear with the IPCC scenarios – if nothing is done to reach sustainable development in 2030, we will be in an international apocalyptic era. There is no second earth. Governments and individuals should finance more climate actions and must work together to establish a genuine synergy between actors. We have not inherited the earth, we have to hand it over to our children and they should hand it in their turn to their children.

Tell us about ANYL4PSD?

The African Network of Young Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development (ANYL4PSD: https://anyl4psd.org/) is a pan-African network based on the principles of voluntary service, solidarity, the common good and human dignity. The Mission is to focus on sources of inspiration and the potential of cultural, natural and human resources, including youth, to identify pathways for concrete actions to build peace, which are understood as the cornerstone of endogenous and sustainable development.

It is accredited by the United Nations Economic and Social Council, the United Nations Convention against Desertification and the Global Compact orderly for Secure and Regular Migrations.

ANYL4PSD’s vision is to contribute decisively to the youth class’ emergence, positioning, and effective participation in public policies. The ambition of the African Network of Young Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development is to broaden public space for more economical, social, cultural and political expression to develop a critical mass of young Africans with significant skills in social cooperation and public participation, capable of adopting attitudes and behaviours to construct a regional area where peace and Sustainable Development Goals are perpetuated, conflicts permanently banned, where conditions for sustainable development are firmly established and where respect for the environment, leadership and fight against corruption enrich African citizenship.

What has been the most significant moment in your journey so far?

The most significant moment in my journey so far has been the creation of a global coalition called the New Deal for Nature and People Coalition, bringing together more than 500 organisations around the world to turn the tide on climate and biodiversity through advocacy, capacity building, implementation of projects sharing good climate practices and research. Having the honour to be part of the leading team of this coalition, I have the grace to see organisations effectively cooperating and sharing their knowledge to limit global warming to 1.5 - 2 degrees Celsius, accelerate ecosystem restoration and adaptation through ecosystem-based adaptation.

Are there any particular developments or changes you hope to see? If so, what are they?

I wish to see youth at the centre of the decision-making process, implementing and monitoring and evaluating national, regional and international climate actions to ensure the sustainability and achievement of the global climate vision as described in the Paris Agreement. The New Deal for Nature and People coalition led by the African Network of Young Leaders for Peace and Sustainable Development is a core instrument that will ineluctably help reach this ambition while contributing to safeguard the rights of youth and reduce their vulnerabilities. 

Do you have any upcoming projects?

As part of our engagement towards climate action, ecosystems safeguards and conservation, this year we intend to increase youth voice and positions in the momentum building towards a strong Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. We are working to sustainably build a generation of future eco-leaders by engaging and mobilising children towards attaining nature and positive human vision: to stop and reverse the catastrophic loss of biodiversity, ensure good governance, human rights, peacebuilding and put nature on the path of recovery for future generations. We also intend to mobilise youth and civil society organisations and networks around the theme of climate justice and the green climate fund throughout:

How can young people become more involved with climate activism?

To be more involved with climate activism, young people should be passionate and always work with the spirit of LOVE (Learn, Observe, Volunteer and Enduring).

Do you have any advice for young people interested in sharing their youth voice?

I advise young people to be the change they want to see in this world. They can use social media to share their voice and actions. Volunteering is a key for personal and community development. They should be driven with the passion for being the voice of the voiceless and should be remembered that to attain a vision (world), we can start by small, scalable actions within the community.

Header Image Credit: Markus Spiske

Author

Elle Farrell-Kingsley

Elle Farrell-Kingsley Kickstart Team

Elle is Voice’s Media Sub-Editor and podcast host, coming from a diverse range of creative pursuits — including curating, music production, and performing arts. She’s a Liberal Arts graduate and a Y7 ambassador, with a keen interest in cultural diplomacy and the digital & tech sector. Elle is always on the lookout to make interesting voices heard on the Voice Podcast. When she’s not behind a computer screen, she can be found training MMA.

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