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The year 2022 has seen the African youth particularly wake up to the challenge caused by climate change. It appears that the African youth has suddenly realized the dangers climate change poses to their future and thus were not shy to fight for space at the discussion tables.
In Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and literally in each and every one of the 54 countries that make up Africa, the youth actively participated in one way or the other on matters of climate action.
And they have a reason for this. The African nations have suffered the worst impacts of climate change in years, thanks to failed rain seasons over a number of years.
In places such as Kenya for example, close to 5 million in more than 23 Counties went to bed without food. Women lost the capability to put food on the table for their children and family.
Young girls, especially those among the pastoralist communities had their rights as children violated and traded for food through early marriages.
The dire situation witnessed by Kenyans was also met by other countries in Africa, more specifically those in the horn of Africa, and the Sahel region where close to 34 million people suffered the worst effects of drought, leading to loss of livestock in their thousands and other forms of livelihoods.
The aforesaid situations could have perhaps been the reason why the 27th Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 27) that took place in Sharma El Sheikh, Egypt last month witnessed a high number of attendees when over 45,000 participated.
From this gargantuan tumult, a significant fraction was the youth who were for the very first time granted greater prominence by the UN Climate Change’s Executive Secretary.
Markedly, COP27 attempted to exemplify the examples of an inclusive approach to climate action by hosting the first-ever youth-led Climate Forum and the first-of-its-kind pavilion for children and youth
Speaking at COP27, Tasnia Ahmed from Bangladesh said; “the youth need to be at the centre of key decision-making processes.They should not be tokenized because they have real solutions that go beyond participation,” she said.
On the same vein, Judy Nyamvula, the Executive Director of the Sexual Reproductive Health Alliance SRHR Alliance underscored that the youth should be part of Climate change action because they make up the biggest part of the population in Africa and it would only make sense if they are part of the change.
Nyamvula argued that the youth disproportionately suffer from the impacts of climate change and need to be equal shareholders in the roles and responsibilities set up by the government. Nyamvula also noted that the generations will relive the outcomes of false solutions if the governments fail to include them.
Notably, the World Leaders Summit high-level roundtable discussions at COP 27 highlighted that vulnerable community that largely include the youth need finances, resources, and tools to effectively deliver climate action.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2022 report on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability had earlier in the year highlighted the need for inclusion of the youth, women, and marginalized groups to enable a climate-resilient approach towards development.
The report noted that adaptative climate actions need to advance equity within and between generations. This shows the necessity for youth inclusion.
Cathy Li, a youth advocate from the United Kingdom said Governments need to urgently scale up mitigation ambition and ensure rights-based equitable implementation at the local level.
Agreeing to Li’s views, Nyamvula said governments need to provide climate change education for young people to understand the effects of the climate crisis.
“The youth need to be granted opportunities to come up with innovative ideas to save humanity before it’s too late,” says Nyamvula
The youth play an integral part as in development and must be included in operationalizing current policies and new funding arrangements between now and the next discussions at COP28 next year.
There is also a need to allocate proper and realistic budgets to address the crisis at the community and national levels so that a bottom-down approach to solving climate change trickles down from the top government to the youth.
Should government officials choose to turn a blind eye to the plea of young people then there is a probability that the vulnerable youth to remain lost and damaged even though there is a “Loss and Damage” Funding.
We must also note one thing; Climate change is here and its impacts may only get worse – unless the youth become the quintessential catalyst for climate change and unless government includes them in co-creating solutions and implementing them collectively.
The writer is a communication officer at the African Women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET)
Source of original article: Environment – Africa Science News (africasciencenews.org).
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