KIGALI– African youth are calling for concrete climate change actions ahead of the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP27) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change next month.  

COP27 will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from Nov. 6-18. In a resolution adopted at the closure of the YouthConnekt Africa summit in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, Saturday the youth said mobilizing finance for climate change is urgently needed as a requirement to many of the actions African countries need to take to address climate change. 

COP27 should lay out concrete actions for assisting developing countries in getting climate finance required to boost climate actions, they suggested in the resolution, titled a call to action to global leaders. 

The resolution will be presented at the COP27 meeting.

Though developed countries had pledged nearly 100 billion U.S. dollars per year by 2020 for climate action in developing countries, this is yet to be fulfilled. 

“At COP27 there should be concrete actions to initiate plans on how the funds will transform to ensure sustainability.

“Still, more innovative financing models and new financing instruments are needed,” said Alodie Iradukunda, Rwanda National Youth Council coordinator while addressing the gathering. 

The youth also called on COP27 to clarify the steps needed to address loss and damage. 

“There is an urgent need to secure a dedicated new financing facility that will help developing countries ravaged by climate-induced losses and damages. 

“More policy-making efforts should be channeled towards understanding and laying out an action plan for tackling loss and damages across vulnerable communities alongside mitigation and adaptation,” Iradukunda said.

On youth-led green entrepreneurship, the summit called on Africa to prioritize and harness the power of youth innovative solutions as a tool for green and climate-resilient economic growth.

The role of young people in climate actions should not be underestimated as they are powerful catalysts in advancing climate actions, especially through green entrepreneurship, the youth said.

The forum urged Africa to scale up adaptation. Climate change threatens the lives and livelihoods of more than 100 million people in extreme poverty.

The summit warned that with the low levels of adaptive capacity and lack of relevant information and high dependence on agro-eco systems livelihoods in Africa will be harshly affected due to climate change.

“Every problem begins with a climate change issue, that is why transforming our strategies and changing our behaviors to protect the planet and to help vulnerable people is the only way we all have to make Africa and the world a better place,” said Juvenile Mugwa, a youth delegate from Cameroon.

Investments need to be made in early warning systems and infrastructure that can withstand extreme weather conditions, according to Iradukunda. 

“We need to develop plans and policies to deal with the effects of climate change. Adaptation hence is key and critical to ensuring that Africa can continue to prosper in the face of climate change,” she said. 

On energy transition for Africa, the youth called on COP27 to ensure sustainable energy access for Africa’s 600 million people who still lack access to energy in Africa. 

The summit also appealed to Africa to accelerate the drive toward climate-smart agriculture, noting that climate change undermines the continent’s ability to feed its population, making it a top priority to address.

The meeting called for improved agriculture productivity to address the mounting food insecurity in the face of climate change.

On plastic pollution and waste management, the summit underlined the need to improve the management of waste, particularly plastic waste as it poses a serious threat to the continent affecting people’s health.

It also urged more investment in waste management through public-private partnerships or scaling up support to social entrepreneurship efforts that are addressing these issues.

Africa’s largest annual youth summit that connects youth from across the continent and beyond was organized under the theme “Accelerating Investments in Youth: Resilient Youth, Resilient Africa.”

Roughly 10,000 young people and policymakers from more than 90 countries attended the event. 

Oulie Keita, the executive director of YouthConnekt Africa, commended the young people for showing enthusiasm in their participation and emphasized the need to put youth in the driver’s seat. 

“Young people have engaged with their leadership in shaping the narrative on Africa’s development to ensure that Africa is portrayed for what it truly is — a continent rich in talent, natural resources and resilience, Africa is indeed the future,” Keita said.  

“Throughout the sessions, attending youth felt a sense of empowerment after leaders and experts from various fields pledged their support to empower the youth to successfully undertake projects that can steer the continent’s development.”

Key issues discussed at the summit included the contribution of youth toward climate action, sustainable peace and security, cultural creative industry, sports, the economy as well as skilling for the digital economy. 

The summit spotlighted the digital economy as an important emerging sector promising to create jobs. 

A continental initiative, YouthConnekt Africa has a mission to empower young people by enhancing their knowledge, experiences and skills while investing in their ideas, innovations and initiatives to harness Africa’s demographic dividend. – Xinhua