African Youth at COP25
The 25th session of the Conference Parties (COP25) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held from the 2 -13 December bringing together nearly 27000 people to the Spanish capital. COP25 provided parties with the opportunity to finalize the “rulebook” of the Paris Agreement – the operating manual needed when it takes effect in 2020.
In the spirit of the convention on climate change young people continue to enjoy various spaces during COP mainly through YOUNGO; the official youth constituency to the UNFCCC. Article 6 of the Convention and Article 12 of the Paris Agreement referred to as Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) encourage the empowerment of every member of the society to take climate actions and therefore young people who are most vulnerable to the climate crisis are increasingly becoming the centre of discussion.
The world today is home to the largest generation of young people in history and their energy, creativity, and innovation, when harnessed properly, will accelerate sustainable solutions to the global crisis. Youth have a pivotal role to play in the implementation of ACE which consists of six elements namely: education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information, and international cooperation.
At COP25, the Intergenerational Inquiry which is a highlight event of Young and Future Generations Day and like every year provided a platform for youth and decision-makers to discuss how young people can enhance the implementation of the Paris Agreement. This platform was attended by the Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC and provided an opportunity for young people to share the outcome on the Conference of Youth (COY 15) to the secretariat.
The African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC) has continued to empower and mobilize young people at COP through our side events and exhibitions. Through an exhibition at COP 25, AYICC was able to showcase the actions and contributions of African youth in the fight against climate change. Such actions include ecological restorations, renewable energy promotion, and local conference of youth hosted by our national chapters.
AYICC’s greatest concern however, is with regards to the low representation of African youth at the UNFCCC sessions. There are many contributing factors which includes lack of funding, inability to assess accreditations and visas. As the first step in addressing this, we will continue to encourage African countries to make conscious efforts to include youth delegates in their official delegations for COPs. We also call on development partners and stakeholders who are interested in youth development to reach out with their support to AYICC to enhance African youth participation in this important global process.