COP27: African youth issue list of demands
Young people from across Africa have laid out a list of demands they say negotiators at the on-going United Nations (UN) climate conference (COP27) in Egypt must meet in light of what has been declared a humanitarian crisis induced by climate change on the continent.
The demands, which are contained in a declaration issued Thursday, include some that the youth say are urgent and require immediate response and implementation by 2024 by the UN, the African Union (AU) and other relevant stakeholders.
Top on the list is the demand that climate mobility is reflected in decisions made at COP27, COP28 and beyond.
The youth want migration recognized as an adaptation strategy and coping mechanism for youth in climate policies, finance and governance structures going forward.
They equally demand all parties and decision makers at all levels to meaningfully include African youth in climate change and mobility-related decision-making and policy implementation.
Youth climate fund
Specifically, African youth are demanding the establishment of a well-coordinated and accessible African Youth Climate Fund.
They say it must be operational at local, national and regional levels to support African youth to address the climate crisis and human mobility nexus.
Chido Mpemba, AU youth envoy told Rwanda Post the demands are in light of the heavy toll of climate change effects on young people and other vulnerable groups on the continent.
“If our demands are not addressed, ultimately we are going to suffer. Youth are the largest demographic that we have and are leaders of tomorrow, and it means that if leaders of today don’t tackle these challenges the continent will have failed and even the coming generations will be affected,” Ms. Mpemba said in an interview ahead of the release of declaration.
The 11-page declaration was developed by young people from across the African continent coordinated by African Union Youth Envoy, the Youth Constituency of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Migration Youth and Children Platform with partners.
The declaration contains more than 30 demands.
“We call for the urgent establishment and operationalisation of the loss and damage finance facility by COP28. We demand that high income countries (Global North) urgently deliver the $100 billion annual climate finance pledge as grants, not loans, and with additional financing to address loss and damage,” reads the declaration.
Young people, who official figures indicate they account for about 60 per cent of Africa’s population, are disproportionately affected by climate change effects, just like children and women.
Their voices at COP27 featured in different discussions highlighting challenges they face and their role in tackling the climate crisis especially in light of rising climate-induced displacements.
For instance, a 2022 report by ReliefWeb, a UN linked humanitarian information portal, puts the people who have been affected by droughts in the Horn of Africa and famine in Somalia to 36.1 million.
More people are being displaced by the prolonged droughts in East Africa, causing famine, food insecurity and starvation in North-eastern Uganda and Eastern Kenya.
Besides, floods in Nigeria recently displaced more than 1.3 million people and killed over 600 people.
Protection on the move
The youth demand Parties together with the UN to establish and facilitate National Youth Climate Envoys and Regional Youth Advisory Groups on Climate Mobility whose responsibility will be to spearhead the protection of vulnerable communities and those on the move due to the climate crisis.
They equally want Parties to integrate climate education in school curricula, and all governments and stakeholders to invest in climate education for children and youth at all levels.
Other demands include that climate mobility and youth on the move be integrated in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, the AU Agenda 2063, the Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage (WIM), and the work of the Task Force on Displacement (TFD).
~ Reporting by Johnson Kanamugire in Sharm El-Sheikh