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FEATURE: Generation restoration – Adapt for our future

Young climate leaders were very active and influential in shaping the headline debates and commitments associated with the Climate Adaptation Summit this week. Priyanka Ukabhai and Emma Baker of CDKN report.

On Friday, at the virtual Climate Adaptation Groningen conference, the former Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), Ban Ki-Moon remarked,“it is deeply unfair that the ones that have contributed the least – the youth and the poor – are the ones who stand to lose the most.” Aptly, he summed up the sentiments of millions of young people around the world whose futures will unwillingly be shaped by climate change, yet whose voices, energy and ideas have been excluded from the very climate change decisions that will determine their quality of life. This is especially concerning for continents like Africa, where three quarters of the population is under the age of 35 and are already facing the effects of climate change.

In light of this predicament, and in the lead up to the Climate Adaptation Summit, young people around the world prepared a Global Youth Call to Action on Adaptation. This plea, directed at world leaders and decision-makers, not only asks them to put action to their promises of climate change adaptation but to seriously take on board the perspective of young people. This Global Youth Call to Action is the product of 15 consultations for youth from 120 countries, organised by the Global Centre for Adaptation’s Youth Adaptation Network (YAN).

The call for action urges global leaders to declare a Decade of Action to prepare young people for their future and inevitable climate change reality. Young people have highlighted the importance of climate change adaptation for their generation and asked to be afforded the tools and a voice in preparation for transitioning towards green and climate resilient development.

As Ms Nisreen Elsaim, Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Group (UNDG) Youth Advisory Group on Climate has stressed: “it’s us who will deal with the situation, so we must be included in every step of adaptation policies and plans in our countries.”

Key actions and entry points for youth involvement

The Youth Call for Action on Adaptation outlines key actions needed for the next decade to ensure that the world, especially the youth and those in the Global South are able to adapt to climate change. These actions include:

–       Raising climate change adaptation awareness.

–       Promoting universal education, training and skills development to empower younger generations to adapt to the impacts of climate change.

–       Fostering youth participation in the implementation of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

–       Accelerating adaptation implementation and scaling of climate- resilient solutions.

–       Expanding economic opportunities for youth, adaptation jobs and youth-led businesses.

–       Strengthen youth leadership of girls, young women, indigenous youth, young farmers and the most vulnerable youth.

The current context of the COVID-19 pandemic affords an opportunity for world leaders to advance climate change adaptation. Not only has the pandemic demonstrated that most countries are not prepared for the big shocks that climate change will bring, but that people are capable of adapting when necessary. They have argued that the pandemic has created a unique ‘ripe moment’ to recover and rebuild a greener and more climate resilient world. Mr Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Centre on Adaptation, cited the words of 22-year-old poet Amanda Gorman at the inauguration of President Biden when she said “we will not march back to what was, but move to what shall be.”

New climate programmes launched for young people

In an attempt to scale up young people’s skills and give them a voice in decisions that affect their future, the Global Centre on Adaptation has launched a youth leadership programme which includes an Adaptation Solution Challenge and Incubator Fund with the African Development Bank to build the entrepreneurial capacity of 1,000 youth businesses across Africa. It will facilitate access to funding, training and mentorship for youth-led, and especially women-led, businesses. Furthermore, along with the University of Groningen, the Global Centre on Adaptation have developed an online course geared towards climate change adaptation governance, with the ambition to support over 1 million young leaders to get trained, educated and empowered.

In addition, a dedicated training programme for young people to engage directly in the design and implementation of National Adaptation Plans has been formulated, starting with policy dialogues in 10 countries in Africa. Finally, a pioneering leadership programme for young women from the Global South was launched to support them to be agents of transformative climate adaptation action in their communities.

Climate change adaptation has long taken a back-seat to climate change mitigation. However, especially in the Global South, concerted efforts to step up climate change adaptation are imperative for the survival of millions. Although there is still much more action needed, young leaders such as Joshua Amponsem have assured the world that “we will continue to act as changemakers…for a resilient future, not just for young people, but for all.”

Read more

You can read more of CDKN’s coverage of the Climate Adaptation Summit here:

Accelerating climate-resilient economies in Africa

Restore Africa’s degraded land – Climate Adaptation Summit

Africa adaptation event shines spotlight on climate-smart agriculture

Accelerating adaptation in Africa, a series of commissioned blogs from African experts, film and working paper

 

Image: Nisreen Elsaim speaks at the online Climate Adaptation Summit, 25 January 2021. Photo by CDKN.

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