ZELA Youth Network, my heart is full

17 August 2023

Testimonial by Nkosi Sibanda-ZELA Youth Network

ZELA Youth Network is indeed the center of excellence and brilliant minds. Hi, colleagues! My name is Nkosi Sibanda, and I will briefly share my testimonial.

Coming from an engineering background, I never anticipated that I would find myself at the heart of climate change advocacy. Throughout my academic years, I never participated much in advocacy, activism, or any form of lobbying. And even while serving as the Programs Director at Green Shango Environmental Trust, my responsibilities centered around organizing clean-up campaigns and a few occasional activities. In 2022, a turning point arrived when I received an invitation from a friend to attend a capacity-building workshop hosted by the ZELA Youth Network. I distinctly remember the day, as it was a turning point in my journey, and Bella was one of the facilitators. I was one of the active contributors during the session until she gave me a small gift.

Since then, my involvement with the ZELA Youth Network has ignited a fire within me to grow within the advocacy sector. I have had the privilege of collaborating with my colleagues in Hwange and working alongside various civil society organizations. What astonishes me is the rapid progress I’ve made in such a short span of time.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the ZELA Youth Network for playing an integral role in my personal and professional growth. The platform has not only broadened my horizons but has also provided me with the tools and connections needed to make a meaningful impact in the field of climate change advocacy.

Through the guidance and capacity-building of ZELA, I can say, for lack of a more modest term, that I have achieved some of the following feats:

-Youngo Nature WG Policy Lead

-Youngo Health WG Board Member and Partnerships Lead

-I was part of the 7 member delegation representing Youngo at the 8th meeting of the Katowice Committee of Experts on the Impacts of Response Measures in Germany 

-My research paper on Environmental Justice made it to the top 10 globally,  at a call organized by the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD)

-I was invited to attend the Global Policy Seminar hosted by UNRISD as a speaker and panelist. This conference will be held in Bonn, Germany this month

-I was part of the team that organized the first ever LCOY in Zimbabwe in 2022

-My inputs on Just Transition and the Extractive Sector were adopted into the UN Business and Human Rights WG report set to be presented at the 78th UN General Assembly. 

-I will be hosting a side event at the African Climate Week in Nairobi, Kenya.

-I am part of the Youngo Health WG COP28 side events organizing team.

-I was selected to attend the ICCM5 in Germany in September.

-I was selected to attend the Student Energy Summit hosted by IRENA in Abu Dhabi, UAE, in November this year.

These are just some of my achievements, and ZELA Youth Network played a huge role in building me into who I am today. I am sure more opportunities are yet to come as I continue to grow as a researcher, policy analyst, and climate change advocate. I look forward to positively engaging with my fellow network members as we grow together and grow the impact of the ZELA Youth Network as well.

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