Why Youth Should Take Lead in Climate Action

Less Talk More Action
10th June 2021
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9th October 2021
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Africa is home to 17 percent of the world’s population and is one of the most vulnerable areas to be affected by the climate crisis. Rural areas and indigenous communities in Africa face droughts and flooding.  It is children and young people that stand to be most affected by the impacts of climate change. 

Youth across the region are frustrated with the lack of climate action by their leaders and they feel that their voices are not being heard. This frustration has been demonstrated over the years by the multiple climate strikes, campaigns and other youth-led movements happening across the continent.   

It is not just young people who are concerned about the climate crisis. Most people are concerned but lack knowledge on what action they should take to mitigate climate change effects.

While each young person’s concern for their environment and their future is unique, countries must step up their climate commitments, including under the Paris Agreement

As the youth, we understand we are part of the solution. We have to be the change-makers, but we also have to be the bridges to our communities. While you are advocating for climate action on social media, it’s very easy to get caught up in the noise; allow yourself to understand the value that you have. The climate crisis is an ongoing story and one that we, as the youth, have the unique opportunity to write the next best chapter.

Youth often have difficulty engaging with government stakeholders, especially at the local level. Governments are not appropriately prioritizing the voices of the youth when it comes to climate policy. Funding for youth initiatives to address climate change and access to technology are identified as other key bottlenecks to youth-led action locally.

It’s time to come up with a Climate Action Platform, which builds upon the results of the diffident dialogues and aims to achieve;

  • Raising awareness of young people for climate actions at individual, organizational and policy levels.
  • Support governments to engage young people in meaningful ways to implement NDCs.
  • Enable thought leadership to reach wider and impactful audiences.
  • Support young people and youth organizations with resources in order to scale up their climate actions.

The lead up to the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow on 31 October – 12 November 2021, is a great opportunity to elevate the voices of the youth.  Whilst youth inclusion has increased in countries working with the UNDP Climate Promise, there is still immense work to be done to ensure the representation of young people in NDCs and at COP 26. Not only do youth have a right to be heard at this year’s conference, but also their expertise and experience is a vital dimension in working towards a future in which their rights are respected.

The youth all over the African continent are applying their ingenuity to climate problems and coming up with solutions. They show what’s possible, affordable and desirable to keep climate action on track in line with the Paris Agreement. In many cases, climate action produces a ripple effect with many other benefits, like more jobs, higher incomes, increased access to energy and gender equality.

Climate change promises to escalate pressures on food systems. The continent should be ready to deal with water scarcity through an ancient and sophisticated network of cascading water tanks aligned with natural topography and watersheds.

With rapid urbanization presenting climate challenges and opportunities, Africa must turn to nature to improve the resilience and livability of cities. An essential part of these approaches is the vertical integration of climate change actions among and between different levels of government, under a multi-level governance framework that involves different combinations of public, private and non-state actors and, importantly, citizens themselves.

With gender discrimination still leaving many women across Africa more vulnerable to climate change and with fewer resources to adapt, climate action should uphold rights and supports equality.

Written by Jacob Kumenda

Jacob is a consumer rights advocate at Consumer Grassroots Association with a key focus on ensuring consumers have information that enables them to make informed choices. He writes on different topics concerning consumers. You can contact him via Kumenda@cgakenya.co.ke or on Twitter @JacobKumenda.

Photo by Anthony Ochieng https://www.tonywild.co.ke/

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