African Youth Voices: A Crucial Force in Fight Against Climate ChangeAugust 17, 2023
With the Africa Climate Summit approaching, young people are actively participating in sustainable activities and engaging in conversations aimed at guiding the African continent towards a positive trajectory.
Across the continent, discussions on climate action have been unfolding. It appears that young people are eager to assume leadership roles and make a significant impact. However, they express frustration at being marginalized in crucial processes related to this cause.
“Governments see youths as vulnerable groups but don’t see them as stakeholders or collaborators to implement the policies that are put in place,” she says.
Furthermore, she emphasizes that there is still much progress to be made in recognizing young people as vital participants in the implementation of climate action programs and policies.
There is no denying the remarkable efforts of youth who are actively devising pioneering solutions through youth-based organizations. Laminjeng firmly believes that if governments and other stakeholders can effectively utilize the skills and talents of these young individuals, it will lead to a substantial and meaningful change.
“We are continuing to see how young people are building their resilience and promoting green skills. However, when it comes to how governments collaborate with youths, there remains a gap,” she remarks.
The younger generation has a profound understanding of the severe impacts of climate change, inspiring them to take significant action across the continent to mitigate the crisis. As a result, many of them actively participate in climate action activities aimed at preserving the planet for future generations.
“One of the ways we try to create awareness in Namibia is through working with youths out of school,” Deon Shekuza, a Namibian Climate and Sustainable Development advocate, says.
While acknowledging the productivity and efficiency of such initiatives, Shekuza confesses that financial limitations continue to impede their progress towards achieving their goals. Although young people involved in these initiatives possess brilliant ideas, the execution requires resources and financial support, presenting a significant challenge.
He adds that the local authority has been a major hindrance to their activities.
“We cannot go and plant trees since there are systems that don’t allow that, especially in urban areas,” he notes, adding that these rules kill the morale of innovative minds.
The prevalence of technology has facilitated the seamless dissemination of climate change awareness. It has also provided easy access to information on how other countries are addressing the various factors impacting the climate.
In Tanzania, the situation echoes a similar narrative, as Gen Z Climate steward Laurel Kivuyo acknowledges the occurrence of rising sea levels that have led to family migrations.
“Young people are now stepping up to curb the impacts of climate change. There are so many innovations in renewable energy and so on,” she utters.
Through her involvement in mitigation programs with the Maasai communities, Kivuyo who also serves as environment ambassador appointed by the Ministry of Environment in Tanzania, has observed that these communities heavily depend on nature for their livelihoods. Activities such as farming and pastoralism are intricately tied to the state of the natural environment. Any disruptions or changes to this delicate balance have far-reaching consequences, impacting the entire community.
Addressing the gaps faced by the youth in their readiness for the African Climate Summit, the three climate advocates propose that governments allow space for young people to express their voices and implement their ideas. By doing so, they believe it will foster sustainability and drive positive change.
Additionally, the meaningful inclusion of youth in decision-making processes and policy development will play a pivotal role in fostering collective efforts to combat climate change. The advocates also emphasize the need for extensive awareness campaigns to engage more young individuals in the climate action movement.
The advocates also emphasized the significance of climate financing to support essential projects such as renewable energy initiatives, adaptation measures, capacity building, technology transfer, and climate change research. They highlighted the importance of financial contributions from governments, international organizations, private entities, and individuals in supporting climate-related projects and initiatives.