The Time is Now: African Climate Summit

The African Climate Summit (ACS) is underway in Nairobi, Kenya. The African continent, with its 1.2 billion people, is weighed down by debt to countries and multilateral development banks, primarily in the Global North. The debt disallows positive investment in climate mitigation and adaptation measures. Despite the near negligible contributions of African nations  to the climate crisis, they are indeed some of the most impacted peoples. Of the 20 countries most impacted by climate change, 17 are in Africa. Nearly 600 million Africans lack access to electricity and of those 600 million, 72 million youth in Africa — the majority of which are women – are uneducated and unemployed. 

The relative poverty of African nations makes them ill-equipped to manage the swings that come with extreme weather. Drought, floods and high heat have pummeled people and flora and fauna alike. Responding to climate change is an opportunity to create stronger, more resilient communities across Africa by investing in the infrastructure they desire, protecting and rehabilitating critical ecosystems, and addressing gender inequality, education gaps and unbalanced economies. 

Over the last several months, I’ve had the pleasure of working with youth representatives from different African nations and stand with them as they call for the following at the ACS: 

Natural Resource Governance 
Governments must involve young people in the decision-making process for their natural resource governance, with particular attention to environmental, social and corporate governance factors, when awarding leases and contracts for resource extraction, processing and exports. Importantly, guidance should be sought from the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to ensure ethical labor and sustainable practices are applied. 

Inclusive Climate Change Governance 
The time is NOW, of utmost priority, to actively include gendered incentives strengthening and capacity building for young people in addressing government failures in climate action. Broad-based disaster resilient and responsive public finance management must cater to the immediate priorities of young people and their future. 

Addressing the unique needs of women and girls in climate migration efforts empowers them to actively participate in decision-making processes, adapt to changing environments and build resilience within their communities 

We are therefore calling for governments to involve girls and young women in shaping climate policies and strategies. Their perspectives and solutions are crucial in addressing the unique challenges faced by girls and young women affected by climate migration. 

Climate Migration and Security
Our governments and policy makers must recognize most impacted African countries and their abundant natural resources by leveraging these resources to cut down investments on “modern” softwares and tools, which are not easily accessible and inclusive for women and girls. 

Incorporate clear disaster risk reduction
Leaders at ACS must talk about and listen to established community-based resilience centers that provide training, resources and support for climate migrants, enabling them to rebuild their lives in a new environment. 

Youth-Centric Just Transition
The government must back and guarantee green jobs for youth, make funding flexible and accessible to ensure employment opportunities in sustainable industries during the transition to a low-carbon economy. 

Climate Funds: Youth-Led Climate Funds
Dedicated climate funds must be established, managed and directed by youth-led organizations to support grassroots climate projects and innovations. This funding must be flexible and accessible. 

Loss and Damage
In addressing loss and damage, African governments should fund local adaptation and resilient building initiatives that guarantee sustainable and green infrastructure. These policies should adopt the asset of Indigenous knowledge of African nations. 

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