The Association of International Schools in Africa-Global Issues Service Summit (AISA-GISS) is a three-day annual summit hosted by an AISA member school. This event is aimed at encouraging senior students to enquire about global issues and learn alongside other delegates and changemakers from different parts of the continent.
N’Zarama Center for Peacebuilding (NCP) participated in this conference because of its essential role of participating in training youths who are engaged and committed to their communities’ improvement. Through its participation NCP contributed to the sharing of best practices and reflecting on global issues such as land and water shortages, environmental degradation, and the loss of ecosystems in relation to peace and security.
The delegates who are mainly senior students spend time presenting, learning, sharing and discussing important issues during the summit, followed by a hands-on service learning day in the local community.
AISA-GISS provides delegates with opportunities to strategize solutions to global issues, share meaningful sessions and stories about positive change happening around them in different parts of the continent, and to learn about how they can positively and actively engage in various activities in their own communities.
AISA-GISS has become a calendar highlight for many AISA member schools as students are awakened to the notion that they can make a difference as they work together to consider and develop solutions for Global Issues.
The 11th Annual AISA Global Issues Service Summit Conference (AISA GISS 2020) took place at the International Community School of Abidjan, from January 16 – 18, 2020. The Theme for this year’s summit was “N’Zassa: Together we are whole”. The word ‘N’Zassa’ comes from the Akan languages spoken by several ethnic groups here in Cote d’Ivoire which means ‘mixture’. It is usually used to describe a traditional cloth made of small pieces of fabric that, taken in isolation, are not useful for much, but once sewn together results in a beautiful piece with better functionality and aesthetic value. This word was adopted as the 2020 theme to describe the value of mixing of cultures, ideas, concepts which can lead to improve the desired outcomes.
The theme ‘N’Zassa’ symbolizes the importance of the collaborative contribution by all members of the society in addressing global issues and attaining sustainable development. This years’ theme lays strong emphasis on collaboration, growth and interdependence.
Collaborating to Grow as Interdependent Communities: As a global community, we, though from different places we can work together to achieve common goals because together we can do more. By engaging in a plethora of different activities, we become the pieces of fabric that come together to make a whole.
The recently successfully concluded AISA GISS 2020 conference saw the participation of 120 student delegates and 23 advisers coming from 14 international schools and representing 10 countries! Through AISA GISS 2020 the delegates got to:
- Hear inspirational stories from the work of the four keynote speakers;
- Exchange ideas on addressing global issues with more than 20 experts coming from various organizations during the N’Zassa panel discussions. NCP participated in the panel on “Planet: The fight against climate change and the preservation of our ecosystems”;
- Share among peers’ ways in which they are addressing global issues in their communities through sixteen meaningful student workshops;
- Strategize innovative ways to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through the sustainability team challenges;
- Carry out day of service projects in collaboration with the service learning partners including a clean-up campaign in Gonzaguevillewith Association Imagine le Monde; and the creation of a nursery hosting 30 000 plants to support reforestation activities in The clean-up campaign and tree nursery activity were conducted in collaboration with the Ministry of Forests (Cote d’Ivoire) and Green Ivory (NGO).
These projects enabled the delegates to know the local community and understand their needs, and learn more about collaboration with various partners through the service learning program that was implemented.
Key Note Speakers
The conference hosted 4 keynote speakers who shared their experiences and work in counteracting the various global challenges. The speakers were;
- Khéranna Yao a 25-year-old Ivorian who is passionate about nature and works in collaboration with UNICEF on the plastic recycled schools building project, in Cote d’Ivoire. In fact, he is piloting the green schools project, which seeks to transform 30 schools made of recycled plastic bricks into ecological schools (operating on solar energy, with the implementation of a plastic recycling system, etc.);
- Jean Jacques who is national director for Habitat for Humanity Cote d’Ivoire (HFHCI). He strongly believes that when we work together, we can change people’s living conditions; especially vulnerable groups of our society. Through his work with vulnerable groups, he hopes to promote sustainable community development in Cote d’Ivoire;
- Sarah Crawford who through her many years of experience and knowledge of NGO management and relationships with governments established Akatia to protect the chimpanzees of Cote d’Ivoire and stop the illegal pet trade;
- Andy Costa who runs a startup that focusses on responsible innovation called Andy COSTA & Co. Andy is a committed ecologist and has for the past ten years been an active advocate in the fight for the preservation of the environment and sustainable development in Cote d’Ivoire.
N’Zassa Panel Discussions
There were six N’Zassa panel discussions which were run simultaneously and these comprised of the following panels;
Panel 1- Planet: The fight against climate change and the preservation of our ecosystems
Panel 2- People: No poverty and zero hunger
Panel 3 -Partnerships: Partnerships between governments, private sectors and public society
Panel 4- Peace: Peace justice and strong institutions
Panel 5- Prosperity: Reduced inequalities and sustainable communities
Panel 6 -Pan – Africanism: Economic growth and quality education
Ms. Flaviour Chanda- Program Officer at NCP in charge of the climate change and migration program, had the privilege of participating in the first panel entitled “The fight against climate change and the preservation of our ecosystems”. This is one of the SDG’s and below are some of the highlights from her presentation.
She started by talking about the mandate of NCP which is peacebuilding with the ultimate purpose of contributing to sustainable development. As is commonly said there cannot be sustainable development without peace. She went on to talk about the two target groups that NCP works with -Women and Youth. She cited some reasons for NCP’s focus on youth and women as follows:
- Youth and women both constitute a large percentage of our population especially in Africa where it is estimated by the UN that the youth population will reach 42% by 2030.
- In Cote d’Ivoire, it is estimated that 3 out of 4 people are youths and that at least 49% of the population are women.
- Both women and youth are marginalized groups that are usually sidelined from various social economic and environmental activities.
She went on to talk about how NCP builds the capacity of women and youth so that they can meaningfully contribute to peacebuilding and development at various levels starting from community level.
In relation to the theme for the panel, Ms. Chanda discussed the speed with which climate change is occurring; rates that are much faster than anticipated according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and its effects are clearly being felt everywhere and thus an urgent need for adaptation and mitigation measures to be implemented. Despite Africa being one of the least contributors to the Green House Gases (GHG) emissions causing the global warming, it is one of the worst hit in terms of the impacts. But why are we seeing the high levels of impact that we are seeing on the African continent? One of the main reasons has to do with the high levels of degradation of our ecosystems among other reasons.
Ms. Chanda also reiterated that climate change is negatively impacting on the natural resources such as land and water and thus making these resources scarce. In Africa, one of the major sources of conflicts is natural resources such as land and water and with the negative effect of climate change on these resources, it is anticipated that conflicts related to these resources are likely to increase. In her discussions of NCP Climate Change related work, Ms. Chanda highlighted the following:
NCP works to build the capacity of women and youth to enhance their resilience and adaptation to the impacts of climate change through:
- Research: on various development issues, publications and dissemination of findings to relevant stakeholders for policy action.
- Capacity development and training: to empower participants with the necessary skills, motivation and information to confront developmental challenges in their communities and mainstream development and peace into their various programs and policies.
- Strategic Partnerships: with other organizations that work in similar fields to enhance coordination of programs and promote greater outreach. Like the theme for the AISA GISS 2020 N’Zassa, NCP realizes the value of working together, because the mixing of ideas, cultures and concepts can lead to a much better outcome.
- Public Policy and advocacy: to influence policies of various African and international institutions so that they may become sensitive and responsive to the imperative of climate change.
The panel discussion concluded with a Q and A session, which allowed for an exchange between the participants and the panelists. Some of the issues raised included questions about some of the projects that NCP is working on or intends to work on in future, issues of conflict in relation to the diminishing natural resources base and other climate change related questions.