Newcastle Environmental Justice Alliance’s (NEJA) Campaign for Climate Defenders, looks at when mining ceases and communities around them are often left without meaningful livelihoods and have to deal with life-long adverse environmental impacts due to mining which was devoid of acceptable levels of environmental stewardship.

NEJA engaged with 41 young people and other government stakeholders in developing a strategic planning process for a fossil fuel-free future and green economy. The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) presented the opportunities for our youth in Manufacturing, Poultry, Retailing, and Textile business and all opportunities to divert the focus from coal extraction and other mining activities that are both environmental and climate degrading. The workshop achieved a very successful outcome in terms of gaining momentum in youth involvement in Climate Justice and Environmental protection and also incorporating an environmental impact assessment (EIA) training. NEJA will now be a home to these 41 young people who actively participated in the program and will form part of the Just Recovery Gathering viewing session on 9-11 April 2021.

The future of fossil-fuels resistance looks brighter as these young people can now be part of EIA processes that were unknown to them. This will help to enhance the quality of the struggle against coal mining and fracking in KwaZulu-Natal. We interlinked the business opportunities outside the fossil fuel industry to increase the momentum for rejection of any coal or fracking activities in our communities – offering young people alternatives.

By Nkanyiso Mthombeni