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If you listed Caleb Adebayo’s accomplishments out on paper, you’d think he was already in his mid-30s. Caleb is the founder of the nonprofit Earth Plus, an associate at a leading law firm in Nigeria, a freelance journalist published in The Guardian as well as other newspapers, a Fellow of the Barrack Obama Young African Leaders Initiative, and was named in 2016 by the United Nations Alliance of Civilisation (UNAOC) as one of 20 Young Peacebuilders in West Africa. This year, he was announced as the winner of the Environmental/Moral Leadership Category of the Junior Chamber International Nigeria.

His resume would be impressive for someone in their mid-30s.

But that’s far from how old Caleb is.

“I’m 24 going on 25,” he tells me in our Skype interview, smiling. He’s ambitious, dedicated to Nigeria’s progress, and reminds me instantly of that famous Lin-Manuel Miranda line: young, scrappy, and hungry.

The Lawyer-Journalist 
Caleb is passionate about the environment, renewable energ, and climate change. That’s what led him to Climate Tracker. In the Climate Tracker training that Caleb went to in 2017, Caleb learned about how to connect data and narrative. He also says that he valued the training on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations.
“It showed me a part of journalism that I wasn’t privy to before. When I returned to Lagos, I did a step-down training for a couple of climate journalists,” Caleb recalls.
For the past two years, since 2016, Caleb has been an ad-hoc climate journalist, in addition to his full-time job at a legal firm. As somebody who spends most of his days working in dispute resolution and energy, the journalism work allows Caleb to stay connected to social issues and impacted communities.
“My writing seeks to bring out important issues in society,” Caleb says. He talks about the pieces he’s written: how climate change is affecting a slum community in Lagos, coal mining in Botswana, and how climate change disproportionately impacts women.
“I wrote that piece fifteen times, over and over,” Caleb says of his piece on the female face of climate change. The op-ed highlights how women make up the majority of agricultural workers all over the world, and yet they are often excluded from government-run climate change adaptation training for farmers and fishers.
“It stayed in my memory and became a part of me,” Caleb recalls. “The research was eye-opening.”
Caleb hopes that his journalism work will break down the complexity of climate change and help Nigerians to be more aware. He also hopes that his work will eventually influence policy.
Once, he recalls, he had a conversation with one of the special advisors to the Minister for Oil and Petroleum in Nigeria because of an article that he had written. By using his writing a tool, he can challenge and support the government to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and National Determined Contributions.
Caleb fires off a list of questions he would ask policymakers: “What are you doing in policy? What’s happening? Is there something going on that we need to know?”
His advice for emerging climate journalists is to challenge assumptions.
“There are a lot of things that we assume are the facts. When we question assumptions, we get to understand that these are not facts. For climate journalism, it is important that we dig and question assumptions. We get to find out the truth like this,” he says.
The Award
This year, Caleb was recognised by JCI for his work in the environment. HIs nonprofit, Earth Plus, is a network of environmental organisations that do community work in schools and online engagement.
“We believe in an environmentally responsive government and citizenry. We don’t believe that one part should supersede the other. If you have the right government to provide amenities, and the people to the use them in the right way, then you will have a cleaner, safety, and healthier environment,” he says.
In five years, he expects his organisation to start to influence national policy, expand its reach to other parts of Africa, and even other parts of the world.
By that time, he’ll also be thirty, and probably have even more accomplishments alongside his name.
Lily Jamaludin

About Lily Jamaludin

Lily Jamaludin is a Malaysian writer and researcher. Previously, she helped design education opportunities for stateless youth in Borneo, and assisted in eviction-prevention initiatives in the Bronx. She’s excited to mobilise more young writers from developing countries to influence national debate around climate change.