30 year old Edwin Mumbere grew up near Lake Edward in Uganda. From a family of fishermen, he has long appreciated the lake and surrounding wetlands. Due to a combination of climate change and wetland loss, areas surrounding the lake have experienced severe flooding in recent years. Edwin Mumbere lost his own home to flooding. Today, he explains: “I feel it is my obligation to fight.”
Edwin and his co-founders started the Centre for Citizens Conserving (CECIC) in 2006 as secondary school students, gradually expanding their activities until they registered as a non-profit organization in 2010. Now, Edwin coordinates the work of the CECIC team, dedicated to influencing environmental policies to benefit the most vulnerable and to protect and restore wetlands across Uganda.
Edwin and his team greatly value working with and learning from communities as they develop projects to fight against plastic pollution and wetland degradation. He explains: “I feel at home and I have made so many friends. I feel I am so attached to the project. At the end of the day, it helps me emotionally. Even when we receive threats, we have the support from the community. It keeps us moving every day.”
Edwin hopes that in the next 50 years of the Convention on Wetlands, there will be more research in wetlands globally so that conservation actions are based in science. He argues that the security of local activists and conservationists should be prioritized by various stakeholders as the forces that are majorly responsible for degradation of wetlands are more powerful.
Importantly, he believes that greater efforts are needed to circulate information in local languages about the values and aspirations of the Convention on Wetlands and designated wetland sites.
You can read more about Edwin’s work and other youth engaged in wetland protection, conservation and restoration in this 2021 report “Status, Challenges and Aspirations of Wetland Youth“, researched and compiled by Youth Engaged in Wetlands.
Story compiled by Elise Allély-Fermé and Bidhya Sharma