On our road to COP27 we are participating at Africa Climate Week happening in Libreville (Gabon) with an event on Youth Climate Action and Entrepreneurial Leadership in Africa, as well as supporting the special participation during the week of an exceptional young climate leader from Niger: Zeinabou Maman Noura.

Zeinabou Maman Noura, Head of the Gender, Environment & Climate Change at the Nigerian Association of Environment Scouts (ANSEN) is a dynamic physician who started her commitment towards climate action at the very early age of 8. Her doctoral thesis in medicine focused on an innovative study on climate-sensitive diseases. Her deep commitment to environmental protection was recognised in the book: 100 women from Niger, tracing the lives of the 100 most influential women in Niger (2013).  Zeinabou has more than 15 years of experience in environment leadership and is member of several networks and committees such as NDC monitoring and implementing committee of Niger. 

Meet Zeinabou through the following interview:

My name is Zeinabou Maman Noura and I am from Niamey, capital of Niger. In my country, the impact of climate change plays a negative role on the health of populations, agriculture, livestock, soils… Furthermore, the level of country development matters a lot. Niger is among these countries which social and economic conditions exacerbate the effects of climate change. That is why adaptation and attenuation is unavoidable. Many programs and projects have been implemented by the National Council for the Environment and Sustainable Development with a strong regional political will for population resilience. But in the health sector, we have a lot to do.

When did you start working in climate action? I began since my very young age (8 years old). My mother is a geographer and she has been very active on climate action since I was very young. So she was my model, my inspiration… Through her actions, she teached me that I’m part of a fragile system (our earth) which WE must protect. And I loved this fight so much that this has become my logical way of living. Receiving prices and distinction were also very motivating, and I finally, decide to join my career of physician with my engagement on climate change.

What motivated you to join the Impulsouth climate leadership training? Firstly, because I wanted to complete my knowledge on climate change and bring it to a very high level of leadership which is very necessary for our countries from the south to bring back climate justice. Secondly, I have a project on climate research and education related to health which I want to develop. And I felt this amazing Impulsouth programme would match my two objectives.

What are the opportunities and challenges that you have experienced as an Impulsouth student? I want to say that loudly. Language matters was a great challenge because I’m from a francophone country. My english (in my mind was not suitable at all!). However, the more weeks passed , the more I had the pleasant surprise that I could understand such a cool and very pedagogical mentor that we had! He had the art of pushing you to speak freely about your ideas and helping you to develop them simply. There was also this team of young leaders like me who are very friendly and very committed. Very quickly it became a family. Instead of adding to a heavy schedule that I have each week for beginning with my other concerns, joining the Impulsouth sessions became a convivial moment. And ultimately our stressful end-of-module assignments became a mean for expressing one’s views on climate change issues in our own countries. And at the end, we ended up with very deep knowledge. The teachers really outdid themselves!

What will be your role at the Africa Climate Week 2022? Firstly, I want to share my experience with impulsouth programm as an example of climate action which should be replicated on continental scale. Secondly, I know that young people are very committed, innovative and dynamic. All they need it’s to have a concrete example of leadership, a model, an inspiration. I wish that through my participation I could become humbly that one.

What are your expectations for Africa Climate Week 2022? I would like to positively impact as many young people as possible and to expand my network and partners. We need this to fulfil our vision for Africa and the world. As we said:“Alone we go quickly but together we go far”. I have great ambitions so I hope to build great partnerships and participate in networking meetings to bring back great achievements for my country.

Why is south-south cooperation important to you and your country? In the global south we have a lot of similar realities and we are on the same fight, so exchanging ideas and technologies is very important. As well as the exchange of experiences, lessons learnt and suggestions also necessary, because we no longer had time to make mistakes! The survival of the planet is really at stake, starting with us, the countries of the south.