Recently , Youth around the world are gearing up to demand for climate justice and climate action. The growing movement is now in Africa, with young people taking to the streets in peaceful demonstrations to place pressure on their governments to increase ambition on climate change
But, it is not just about increasing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) , or sitting in boardrooms in front of policymakers to talk about our continental Adaptation Plans. It is about securing future generation, protecting livelihoods and saving the planet earth from climate Change impacts .
Young Vibrant Africans today walked on the streets of Accra Ghana to demand for change. The peaceful protest was held at the sidelines of Africa Climate Week by PACJA in collaboration with YOUNGO and Ghana Youth Education Movement (GYEM). The March brought together youth organizations and CSOs across Africa to demand for immediate action on climate change from leaders . According to participating youths, Climate Change is no longer a myth. It is that dark monster knocking at their doorsteps in broad daylight telling them that maybe tomorrow is not promising.
Speaking during the event PACJA Executive Director Mithika Mwenda emphasized that the war on climate change will be worn by young people through holding government into accounts on key projects implementation. He went ahead to retaliate that PACJA is ready to offer support to all African young people to ensure they are fully participating in decision making and implementation of Climate policies. Mithika also challenged young Africans to grab emerging opportunities especially on green technologies and shape Africa destination towards reducing emissions of Green House Gases (GHG) in atmosphere. Drought scourge is now extending for more than two months and threatens the food baskets of Africa. It is the abnormal rising temperatures in the night and in the day that result in heat strokes for babies and increase the spread of diseases.
Young people are not going to sit down and do nothing. They will push back and say enough is enough!. Today they resolved they will not stand on the sidelines and watch their governments negotiate how the future will look like without including them. Additionally youth demanded African governments to support innovative ideas from young people especially on small medium enterprises and green growth agendas. This will greatly support young people to invest more on green energy technologies. In this age of digital technology, globalization and multilateralism, Youth are demanding to be heard, demanding to be included, demanding for real action. They need leaders to pay more attention to adaptation and loss and damage, to take responsibility and ownership of national budgets and the private sector so that we can implement strategies towards climate neutrality.
National dialogues must meaningfully involve young people, otherwise what is a stakeholder consultation, when the key stakeholders that matter are absent from the room? According to most participants during the event, they are tired of the status-quo, of being locked out of meeting rooms where decisions are made. It is ever so easy to bracket and delete crucial texts on contentious issues that appear too difficult to deliberate on. Gone are the days when contexts like financing, carbon pricing and clean development mechanisms were left for those older than us to demystify. Young people are now more informed and educated generation with innovative ideas and solutions that work. All they need is someone to listen and support them because they are youthful generation and they make up nearly half of the world’s population.
Now is the time to take the needed steps that will ensure Africa continent remain within the 1.5 degrees target by 2030. Youth used the opportunity Africa Climate Week, to create pathways for green jobs, to power Africa with renewable and affordable energy and to place women, children and youth in the center of policy processes. They committed to contribute more ideas on climate funding in order to take Climate financial responsibility and put a price tag to climate change. Now is the time for Young people to become guardians of Africa continent and believe that they can achieve climate neutrality together. Like Nelson Mandela said “It always seems impossible until it’s done”. At the end of climate week activities Youths resolved to join forces towards a green and sustainable Africa.
By Dickson Kithinji.