Positioning youth for effective climate action in Africa


Climate change has been described as one of the greatest global challenges for humanity. Rising global temperatures, loss of ice and glaciers in polar regions, sea level rise and ocean acidification, drought and desertification are some of the results of climate change on the planet.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Africa as a region is the most vulnerable to climate change compared to other parts of the world due to its complex climate system. Africa represents only 7.1 percent global greenhouse gas emissions, but although the region is one of the least contributors to global warming, parts of the continent are experiencing the devastating effects of climate change.

the The Sahara is gradually encroaching on its southern border due to reduced rainfall; the Horn of Africa and parts of southern Africa are experiencing the worst drought in recent times, as temperatures in the regions have increased and rainfall has decreased significantly, leading to food shortages. Reports also show increased rainfall which had devastating effects on the peoples and communities of East Africa. Ssea ​​level rise and coastal erosion, further aggravated by human activities, is eroding coastlines and mangroves – particularly in the Niger Delta region – causing displacement and loss of livelihoods for ocean-dependent communities. These are just a few.

Meanwhile, to meet these challenges, the continent must look inward and use its greatest asset – youth – to fight climate change. Africa has been described as the ‘youngest continent’ with 60 percent of the population under 25. This opportunity, if properly harnessed, paves the way for climate action. But then you ask, why are young people important in the fight against climate change? How to prepare young people for sustainable climate action? And how can they develop solutions that will help the continent mitigate and adapt to climate change?

Building a climate-smart and environmentally conscious generation starts with education. Experts and key stakeholders suggested that climate education is a key factor in mitigating the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation. Integrating climate-related lessons into school curricula starting in elementary school will empower the younger generation to be aware of, understand and join the global conversation on the subject of climate change.

It will also raise a generation of young Africans who will understand the climate peculiarities of the continent and embrace climate action at a young age. The long-term outcome of investing in climate/environmental education will be evident as young people address and find solutions to climate change and environmental issues unique to their regions.

Likewise, problem-solving and innovation are common traits associated with youth demographics, as young men and women can think outside the box. Young Africans have the capacity to develop both nature-based and technology-driven solutions to address climate-related issues in their regions. Young Africans champion proforestation, reforestation and clean cooking solutions to promote forest conservation; clean energy solutions to transition communities from dirty fuels to sustainable energy; climate-smart agricultural practices that reduce land degradation and promote food security; circular economy businesses in cities to fight waste; advanced tracking and warning systems to monitor and reduce disasters and risks associated with global warming.

Therefore, there is a need to create an enabling environment that offers young innovators the opportunity to imagine, develop and turn their ideas into workable solutions. National and subnational governments must create policies while VCs and impact investors fund these ventures to foster innovation among youth-led solutions.

As member countries on the African continent engage in various NDCs, develop concrete strategies, negotiate carbon finance, trade emissions and implement green projects, young people must be adequately represented at the table. decision-making and actively engage. Around the world, young people increasingly tend to be actively involved not only in the climate conversation, but also in planning and implementation. This is what Africa needs. The huge chasm between current decision-makers and young people needs to be bridged and enable inclusive youth participation.

The fight against climate change undoubtedly requires a collective intergenerational effort. However, the the younger generation is more exposed to the impacts of climate change – in half a century, they and their children will bear the brunt of previous generations – if tipping points are reached. An innovative and climate-smart generation included in the implementation process will usher in a new era of climate action in Africa.

The Clean Technology Hub (CTH) works to promote environmental and climate education through educational boot camps and the CTH e-Learning Academy for students from elementary schools to higher education institutions to understand the climate change and raising a generation of climate actors. The Hub also promotes innovation in the African sustainability space as an early start incubator for clean energy inventions and innovations, and as a consultant for sustainability and smart investments. to the climate in the region.

Ifeoma Malo is the co-founder/CEO of Clean Technology Hub.

Wole Hammond is deputy director, environment and climate action at the Clean Technology Hub.

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