Climate change is an issue African Youth take seriously, not just because Africa is mostly affected but because our capacity to adapt when disaster calls is so low compared to other young people in Europe or Americas and our government is still struggling to develop an adaptation strategy that may not include the voices of young Africans.
This year, as COP17 lands in an African Soil for the second time, Young Africans are getting so ready and inspired to actively participate. From Morocco to Zambia, from Nigeria to Kenya, young Africans are gathering under the umbrella of The African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC) which is a youth network of youth-led and -focused organizations, university groups, rural groups, schools, and individuals.
The main reason this youth movement was formed in 2006 in Nairobi was to ensure the inclusion and active participation of southern youth voices specifically from Africa, in the international UN climate change negotiations process. African youth make up almost half of the population and are most affected by climate change impacts. We also have the most potential to support Africa to take action on global warming. The AYICC aims to provide a platform for young people in African countries to ensure effective participation and engagement in dialogue on climate change and sustainable development.
Our active participation in COP17 is not only motivated by the fact that the conference is in Africa where we are based, but mostly because of the ongoing lack of political engagement and its dramatic impact of the lives of people. African youth understand that they cannot allow our world leaders to go back from Durban without the commitment the entire planet is waiting for. We have understood that we are the People and we have to ensure success in Durban by coming together to make it happen.
For that reason, our youth leaders are lobbying towards a fair and binding deal at COP17 and beyond. We are working day and night to organize with our peers from around the world a global civil society movement. Our voices are more powerful united.
We are doing national training sessions for African youth and developing a ‘climate awareness roadshow’ for Durban. Together with our partners we are organizing a ‘Climate Caravan’ that will bring over a hundred young environmentalists and climate advocates for a road-show starting in Nairobi and finishing in Durban during COP17. We have successful trained over 30 youths each in Nairobi, Lagos and Addis Ababa during the African Climate Leaders Workshop organized by 350.org. We’re also associated with the ‘’We Have Faith’’ campaign and are mobilizing as many African youth as possible to participate in and contribute to COP17. We don’t only want youth from Africa to be there; we want them to be present and active to achieve a great success for our planet.
JEAN-PAUL BRICE AFFANA a young Activist from Cameroun was elected by peers worldwide as the Focal Point of YOUNGO at the UNFCCC secretariat this year with mission to ensure the effective participation of young people in the process. It is the first time that a young leader from Africa is filling the role, and this is a nice coincidence because our continent will welcome the forthcoming COP17.
We appreciate the support from the Global Youth Climate Movement and partners. We would like the partners to provide us with the necessary resources and trainings that will enable us to better coordinate our work and the energies of our peers. African youth is taking, and would like to take more of, the lead in mobilizing others in civil society this year towards and beyond COP17 and Rio+20. We have the passion, but it is not enough. We want more. We want those who have the knowledge and the necessary resources to share them with us. Then we will do more and together we will be able to coordinate better our efforts.
Esther Agbarakwe and Jean-Paul Affana
Technical Advisers, African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC)