Youths from different countries in Africa have demanded action from global leaders to help stem the worsening effects of climate change, which include drought.
The youth, who were speaking at a two-day conference in Nairobi as part of the activities of the forthcoming Africa Climate Change Summit, asked political leaders to take charge of the fight against climate change. “We need alternative ways of getting fuel. My dream is to live in a green environment with no deaths and infant mortality. This youth climate summit is evidence that we have a voice,” said Imran Yusuf, a youth climate champion from Garissa County.
The event, whose theme was “Meaningful engagement and unifying youth voices for climate action”, was held a week ahead of the Africa Youth Climate Assembly, a precursor of the Africa Climate Change Summit and the Africa Climate Change Week.
“I ask myself, are we doing enough for the next generations? Climate change is a threat to children and youth’s rights and it amplifies inequalities,” noted Yvonne Arunga, the Country Director of Save the Children. Participants observed that inclusion of the youth in agriculture would see more adoption of climate-smart practices.
“The future of agriculture, with proper climate mitigations put in place is permaculture and agro-ecology. We have to combine traditional knowledge with modern practices to ensure that we have a clear strategy on food production that is also very sustainable,” said Iqbal Ingabo, the co-founder of OnTrak Margharibi, an agribusiness social enterprise based in Kakamega County. On climate financing, the youth said the West has a heavier financial burden compared to developing countries. However, developing countries must show commitment in both contribution and utilisation of climate finances.
The event culminated in the Nairobi Youth Declaration on Climate Change, which will be presented at the Africa Climate Change Summit that kicks off from September 4-8. In the declaration, the youth demanded for inclusion in the climate agenda and
launched a climate ‘mashinani’ (grassroots) initiative, which will see their efforts synergised for efficiency.
“Currently, you will find that different youths in the same region are working on, for instance, lowering carbon emissions through planting of indigenous trees.
Such efforts when combined will become more pronounced and successful. This is the purpose of climate mashinani,” said Fred Tunya, the chairman of the YALI Alumni, who were among the youth organisations represented at the event. Kenya Institute for Public Policy, Research and Analysis (Kippra) Executive Director, Dr Rose Ngugi, noted that the youth play an integral part in climate action and their participation would help the country combat the effects of climate change.
Kippra in a recent study on accelerating the circular economy in plastic waste management found out that the sector is highly fragmented and none of the current frameworks address fully the entire value chain.
“They often ask what Africa brings to the table. Well, with this Summit, and the upcoming Africa Climate Summit, will show to the world that the most crucial element we bring to the table. As Africa, our most critical contribution is millions of young people stepping up and figuring out the future. Young people finding and creating climate solutions,” stated Esther Passaris, the Nairobi Women’sRepresentative, in closing remarks.