“Not without us”: African youth in the race against the climate crisis

Floods never seen in South Africa . Record temperatures in Tunisia . An unprecedented drought in the Horn of Africa .

Although only responsible for a small fraction of global greenhouse gas emissions, African countries are experiencing some of the most dreadful impacts of climate change.

The average surface temperature is increasing faster in Africa than on other continents, and natural disasters , including droughts, occur there more frequently. Projections for the region indicate that the situation is likely to get worse : more floods, droughts, and heat.

The humanitarian and economic impacts will be devastating for least developed African countries already struggling to lift the most vulnerable out of poverty and ensure they have enough to eat.

With low adaptive capacities, many communities remain extremely vulnerable. Hard-earned development gains are now in play.


Fully aware of the consequences of climate change for themselves, their communities and future generations, young people are mobilizing and speaking out across Africa.

In many countries, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) is helping governments build on their national climate commitments – commonly referred to as NDCs – seeing them as an opportunity to constructively incorporate youth voices towards climate change. climate action.

For example, in Liberia – where young people are beginning to express strong opinions on issues that matter to them, including climate change – they played an active role in shaping the revised NDC . More than 60 youth organizations have come together to come up with a common position on the nation’s climate goals for the country’s political leaders. The government took notice, and eight months later, at a National Youth Summit on Environment and Climate Action , the government shared the updated NDC and invited young people to give feedback on its implementation.

In Zimbabwe , more than 200 representatives of youth organizations from all provinces, urban and rural, contributed a policy brief to inform the revision of the country’s NDC. Describing the concerns of young people as well as key strategies for climate action, including ideas for green jobs in the energy sector, innovations in waste management, and sustainable livelihoods that protect nature as well, the note caught the attention of the Minister of the Environment, who then set up a Youth Office within the ministry to ensure that the voice of young people was present not only in climate action,

In addition to influencing policy, young people have also mobilized on the ground to educate their communities, change attitudes and transform practices. Recognizing their contribution, many countries are taking steps to enable them to act as agents of change.

In Uganda , for example, a program awarding climate-related grants (US$8,000 and US$10,000) to women and youth-led initiatives has supported the adoption of more climate-smart agricultural practices, including water conservation, tree planting, solar photovoltaic applications for households, and energy-efficient cooking technologies such as briquettes.

Across the continent, in Liberia , the government has supported the next generation of environmental experts and disaster management specialists, helping the University of Liberia launch a School of Environmental and Change Studies climate . Since its opening, more than 120 students have enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. At the same time, a new program of youth green brigades is planned to mobilize, mentor and train more than 1,000 young men and women in environmental conservation and management.

In Kenya , where 75% of the population is under the age of 25, a Youth Green Economy Activation Program engages young people in a green economy program by building the capacity of youth-led businesses and businesses. entrepreneurs in the forest sector while leveraging digital technology.

While in South Africa , over 150 high school students have been trained in robotics and coding to empower them to solve local climate issues. The project is one of many initiatives for digital and sustainable youth-driven development in the country.

Fully aware of the impacts on current and future generations, young people and their leaders across Africa have the ideas, the solutions and the motivation to solve the climate crisis.

They recognize that climate change is an emergency and call on world leaders to take action.

“If the system doesn’t work for us, we will change the system.”

-Nisreen Elsaim, Sudanese climate activist and Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Panel on Climate Change

UNDP is committed to amplifying the voice of young people when making decisions about climate action and the future of their communities through capacity development, youth political participation, and support for young innovators . For more information. download the report ‘ Aiming Higher: Elevating Meaningful Youth Engagement for Climate Action ‘.

UNDP’s Climate Promise initiative is the world’s largest offering of NDC support, covering more than 120 countries and territories, representing 80% of all developing countries globally – including 40 least developed countries, 28 small island states in development and 14 major emitters – to improve their Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement.

Delivered in collaboration with a wide variety of partners, it is the world’s largest offer of support for strengthening climate commitments. Learn more at  https://climatepromise.undp.org/fr  and follow us on @UNDPClimate .

Source: UN Development Program