Uchechimere participated in the International Youth Deliberation on Energy Futures and presented a paper she co-authored with other students to the United Nations Economic, Social, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). She was one of 22 students chosen globally from 18 countries and she shares her story below.
“Being part of an International project was a rare opportunity. At first, I was nervous knowing that I would have to talk to students and teachers from different schools as well as Professors from the University of Alberta, Canada, UNESCO, and Senators from Canada. We started by holding regular meetings via Zoom and writing about climate change, energy justice, and energy transition on blogs, and talked about the similarities and differences in the energy sector in each country.
We were supposed to travel to Portugal in April to further discuss the topic, “Energy Futures, Energy Justice, and Energy Transition” but could not because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Since the conference could not hold physically, the organizers arranged a four-day Writer’s Retreat using WhatsApp, Email, Zoom and Google Drive. We were divided into four groups to discuss the theme along the following areas: Education, Cultural and societal change, Economic change and Collaboration. We deliberated and contributed to the report via Google docs and Google drive.
Sometimes I would have to wake up really early to join the meeting because of the time difference. It was tiring but I pulled through. When we were about to end the Writer’s Retreat, we were divided into three groups — the Op-ed group, essay group, and the presentation group. I opted for the essay group as it allowed me to express myself in writing.
During the course of the program, I learnt the importance of education to effect an energy transition globally. People need to be taught early how to use energy and how to transition from current fossil fuel based energy sources to renewable energy sources. Furthermore, I learnt that there is power in numbers. When you work collaboratively in a team, you can achieve great things. I also learnt about other people’s cultures and how to be confident and bold because I have a voice, and my voice counts. I realized that my ideas and views matter as much as other people’s who are more technically advanced.
Personally, the next steps for me after this program will be to create awareness and educate people about renewable energy. I will use social media to share my opinions and activities, and will engage with individuals and non-profit organizations who are working to address energy issues.
I look forward to future collaborations and wonderful programs like this. Thank you Visiola Foundation!”