Ahead of COP27, the Center for Media & Peace Initiatives and Africa Renewal magazine of the United Nations Department of Global Communications held an awareness forum for youths in Africa. The Africa Renewal publication advances a solutions-focused and empowering narrative in its coverage of Africa’s economic, political, and social issues, and promotes the region’s sustainable development activities in the context of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union Agenda 2063. Particularly, it publicises the steps that countries, institutions, and individuals are taking to tackle the climate crisis, which is SDG 13.
The 27th UN Conference of the Parties on Climate Change (COP27) held on November in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Nicknamed the “African COP,” it aims to build on previous successes on adaptation, mitigation, and financing, as well as, potentially, loss and damage. COP27 will bring together top officials of governments, UN and other multilateral agencies, climate activists and others to deliberate and act on the global challenge of climate change.
Africa is disproportionately affected by climate change, although the continent contributes less about 3 per cent to greenhouse gas emissions. Severe weather events such as droughts and flooding are triggering food insecurity and famine impede Africa’s development efforts. Agriculture, including livestock farming and other economic activities, faces an uncertain future, and experts contend that climate change is fueling insecurity in many countries on the continent. The COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine have contracted the GDP of the continent by up to 3.4 per cent, effectively weakening the capacity of countries to implement adaptation and mitigation projects.
The UN notes that: “Young people are not only victims of climate change, they are also valuable contributors to climate action. Whether through education, science or technology, young people are scaling up their efforts and using their skills to accelerate climate action.” Africa’s teeming young population is particularly vulnerable to the climate crisis. At the same time, the youth are expected to seize the opportunity to champion sustainable solutions, demand climate action, hold decision-makers accountable and help Africa build adaptive and mitigation capacities.
Nevertheless, young people across Africa are already taking climate action. For example, in Liberia, more than 60 youth organizations produced a common position that served as their input to their country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) or climate pledges. Similarly in Zimbabwe, representatives of several youth organizations contributed to the policy brief on NDCs, particularly on green jobs, sustainable waste management, and livelihoods. In Uganda, women and youth-led initiatives are boosting climate-smart agricultural practices such as water conservation.
As part of its webinar series, ahead of COP27, Africa Renewal, the Center for Media & Peace Initiatives, Rutgers University’s African Students Association, the Institute of Management Technology, Nigeria, and KCA University, Nairobi, Kenya, are organizing this event to raise awareness of climate change and what is at stake for Africa in Sharm El-Sheikh.
The main objectives of the event include:
• Discuss Africa’s top priorities at COP 27, leading to a better understanding of climate-related issues, including the need to meet NDCs.
• Deepen an understanding of pertinent issues in the broader climate conversation, particularly among young people.
• Equip participants with the requisite climate information to effectively engage with governments and other climate stakeholders to meet climate goals.
• Gain valuable feedback from participants regarding effective climate solutions in their respective communities.
Participants included young Africans, leaders and members of youth organizations, including: Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network, which has a presence in 54 African countries; students of the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu, Nigeria and Kenya College of Accountancy, Nairobi, Kenya; the National African Student Association United States; Messengers of Peace Liberia; United Nations Students Association of Ghana; Youth Congress of Kenya; UN staff (Department of Global Communications and Office of the Special Adviser on Africa), etc.
Leading speakers at the forum were Bitsat Yohannes- Kassahun, Progam Officer (Energy and Climate), Office of the Special Adviser on Africa, United Nations Secretariat, New York, Sandra Macharia, Chief of Africa Section, UN Department of Global Communications, Dr. Uchenna Ekwo, President of the Center for Media & Peace Initiatives, New York.