Andrea just returned from Lagos, Nigeria and the third of three climate leadership training workshops around Africa.  


Crossing the road in Ikeja, Lagos Nigeria is a bit like being in a Nintendo computer game. There are no zebra crossings, pedestrian walkways, or little green men at the traffic light signalling ‘go’. You need to step into the traffic with your hand up and order the cars to stop, hoping that a swerving motorbike, or three-wheeled ke-ke (Nigeria-style rickshaw) does not ride you over in the interim.

This was my first introduction to Lagos, no time to stand on the side and watch, get right into the traffic flow… and that is exactly what thirty young Nigerian climate leaders did for two days packed into a small room on the third floor of a Lagos building. We got stuck in there; learning, discussing, debating, creating and breaking it down. (I mean literally and physically, there were some groovy tunes pumping during the lunch breaks!). Our ‘climate leaders’ training group consisted of Nigerians from all corners of this large country.  It was vital for all of us to understand what is really going on to the climate. To me, Nigeria is already a microcosm of what is to come in the rest of Africa and the world in terms of climate change. To name a few issues, there is desert encroachment and flooding in the north, food and water insecurity in the east, fish reduction and sea level rise in the south, and climate conflict and migration in the west. It’s all happening and it’s happening now. To all those climate denialists…go spend a couple of weeks in Nigeria and you will change your mind fast.

Several participants show off their map of climate challenges in Nigeria

Despite all of this going on, there was certainly some smoke coming from the working brains of our climate leaders in that small room on the third floor of a Lagos building. And that smoke did not contribute to climate change. In fact it was doing exactly the opposite, they were finding amazing ways to bend this climate change curve and kick it in the butt! Through intense group discussions, tear-welling presentations from Samantha, and fascinating stories, I am inspired to know that I left Nigeria in very capable hands. These young people are getting out there on the streets and they are making a difference, I can feel it. I also know that that was not my last trip to this country, a place brimming with such energy and potential needs to be re-visited soon.