The presidential election in Cameroon took place this 9th October 2011 with twenty three (23) candidates running for the only available seat. Following the electoral procedures all candidates had a full week until the 8th October at midnight to present and promote their plans of action for the next seven years in case they were elected by the citizens. During that week most of them focused their speeches on various topics including reduction of poverty; fight against crime and violence; amelioration of the country economy; capacity to welcome more public investments; access to clean water; creation of more jobs for youth; fight against bad governance or reduction of child mortality. All these topics are relevant for the country and were mostly welcomed by the people. However in a changing climate increasing its negative impacts on human life the presidential election in Cameroon was lacking profound discussions on the fight against climate change and the acceleration of sustainable development’s implementation in the country. One of the candidates, Mr. Pierre Fritz NGO, from the Cameroonian Ecological Movement (MEC) was using environment and protection of the nature as his main message during the electoral campaign but this was not enough.
The election immediately became a good opportunity for environmental and climate activists from Cameroon to raise awareness among citizens on the importance to only support with their votes candidates who agree to include climate change and sustainable development policies in their proposed plans of action as a crucial topic to be addressed. That is why Vital Actions for Sustainable Development (AVD), a youth-led civil society organization from Cameroon decided to run an innovative campaign on the week preceding the election called ’’I Vote for Climate’’.
The main goal of the campaign was to encourage all candidates at the presidential election in Cameroon to include sustainable development and climate change policies in the plans of action they propose for the well-being of citizens who voted for them in order to choose their president. Attention of all candidates and the Government of Cameroon was call called on the real threat climate change and environment degradation causes on the life of millions of citizens. The organizers of the campaign also used it as an opportunity to build in Cameroon a civil society movement that increase the capacity of citizens to ask decision makers to use efficiency as a key indicator to ensure a real implementation of national programmes on adaptation and mitigation to climate change, education for sustainable development, energy access and development of renewable energy. Nowadays Cameroon still faces limited energy access for a big number of its population.
‘’I Vote for Climate‘’ campaign was launched on the 4th October in Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon, in the same time with a press conference that brought together more than fifty (50) journalists from various media including TV stations, newspaper, radio stations and online media. Other participants were civil society and diplomatic mission’s representatives, a group of local young musicians and artists as well as many other ordinary citizens. A big number of these people started to sign the petition.
The project is supported by the Global Campaign for Climate Action (GCCA) from Green Peace and involved many youth NGOs from Cameroon like Jeunes Volontaires pour l’Environnement (JVE) - Cameroon chapter and Youth Synergy for Development (SYJEDE). The African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC), a network of African young professionals and activists working to address climate change, also played a key role for the international partnership, technical advices/skills and capacity-building aspects of the campaign.