Citizens have answers that have long been neglected or suppressed. This is a reality even in democratic States, I repeat, we are suffering from too little democracy. In a group task with fellow young persons during the pre-conference moments of the World Forum, we analysed the speech of Brianna Fruean, a Samoan climate activist and member of the Pacific Climate Warriors delegation at COP26 and we couldn't agree more with her perspective. The truest form of victory in saving the environment can only be possible through contextual integration of diverse knowledge systems. You may want to call it citizens' knowledge or the indigenous peoples' knowledge. Importantly, we must raise the consciousness of a new form of colonialism against world citizens perpetrated by governments and big companies. It is called climate colonialism, in which rich and powerful exploit, pollute and profit from the destruction of the earth. Traditional politics have excluded indigenous communities on one hand, and have failed in achieving inclusion of citizens on another hand. Social justice seem far fetched with these big entities not taking responsibility for their actions. Invaluable indigenous expertise is missing, invaluable citizen-led solutions are missing and invaluable citizen's initiatives are not adequately promoted.
After moving to Sweden, from Nigeria, I couldn't help but appreciate the level of citizen-led actions to protect the environment. Little things matter, of course, citizen participation does not just entail citizens' inclusion in decision making or activism but the enabling ground that allows citizens to recycle and reduce waste, the enabling environment that allows citizens to have options in food, or the options in clothing and other basic needs. Sweden indeed changed me, and I couldn't have had a better motivation than seeing what citizens do for the environment. In fact, I was so motivated to lead the environmental discourse that I took up an internship with the United Nations as a Programme Support (Media & Communication) at the Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity, Montreal, Canada. We need more democracy. Sweden needs more, and of course, this extends to the whole of Europe and other Western nations. Nigerian democracy is young, and since we agree that environmental problems are transboundary and its protection is a global pursuit, we can't leave anyone behind. Global leaders must put a strong interest in supporting the growth of democracies in Africa and other developing nations. The question should not be, "Can Democracy Save the Environment," but rather, "How can we Strengthen Democracies to Save the Environment."