Sustainable Engagement of African Youth's Participation in Climate Change in the New Climate Agreement



The recently signed global climate agreement has elicited mixed reactions from around the world by attracting both praise and condemnation in equal measure. But beyond what different people think about the COP21 Paris agreement, we as African youths must step up to the expectations of what it means for us, and the future of our continent.

Within the intergovernmental UNFCCC since 2009, YOUNGO, the official youth organizations civil society constituency has a ‘Global South’ representative who among others, assists organizing the annual Conference of Youth, which brings youth from around the world together in order to build their capacity to participate in climate negotiations. 

Through its Article 6 on Education, Training and Public Awareness, the UNFCCC calls on governments to implement educational and training programmes on climate change to educate, empower and engage all stakeholders including young people. 

At the Lima COP20 in Peru, Decision 19/CP.20, the Lima Ministerial Declaration on Education and Awareness-raising, reaffirmed that youth are one of the key stakeholders to participate and access information and knowledge both of which are crucial for developing and implementing effective policies to combat climate change and adapt to its impacts.

Youth have traditionally been underrepresented in decision-making processes and offered few opportunities to have their voices heard regarding issues that concern them including climate change. All too often, there is a lack of genuine participation of young people in responding to climate change, since programmes are still designed for them, rather than engaging with them as partners.[1]

Whereas African youth are appreciative of the establishment of the ClimDev-Africa Youth Platform (CLAYP), they would wish to see more diverse groups of people benefit from the initiative as opposed to a few select youth representatives as has been the case during the past year in 2015. 

It’s common across the continent to find that the already developed national policies on climate change insufficiently address the education and engagement of youth in climate change issues and the importance of these issues to their present and future lives.

Youth can play a role in informing and educating other youth, sharing information and building capacity, campaigning, lobbying and advocacy, engaging in consultations, leading initiatives, and participating in policy development and decision making.[2]
 
Through appropriate education, information, resources and guidance, African governments must adequately support young people and provide opportunities for them to become informed participants in order to effectively mobilize youth and prepare current and future generations to be agents of change. This is in line with Agenda 21, Article 6 of the UNFCCC and the outcome document of Rio+20 in 2012, ‘The Future We Want’. 

Eric Mwangi Njoroge blogs for the Network of African Youths for Development (NAYD) on matters concerning climate change. He is currently an Adaptation Policy Fellow during the ongoing Phase III of the African Climate Change Fellowship Program (ACCFP) jointly administered by the Institute of Resource Assessment (IRA-UDSM) of the University of Dar es Salaam and START International, Inc. (START). He can also be reached via email at [email protected].



[1] D. Selby and F. Kagawa, ‘Runaway Climate Change as Challenge to the “Closing Circle” of Education for Sustainable Development’, 4:1 Journal of Education for Sustainable Development (2010), 37.
[2] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA), The World Youth Report (United Nations (UN), 2012).