Are youth up for auction or as actors for climate Solutions?
The intergenerational implications of climate change constitutes an intrinsic liability and issue of morality and equity surrounding climate change. Although youth shares no responsibility for the causality of climate change, it however stands as an element of their heritage unless concerted efforts emboldened with concrete and consolidated actions are taken or put in place to address climate change.
While Africa bears the greatest share of the burden of climate risks, it is also rewarded with a highly youthful demography that constitutes about 60% of the population. This is a critical group of actors numerically and energetically to be harnessed as actors in a solution space for climate change; otherwise, they will remain up for auction to climate impacts and its forsaken burden. Unfortunately, they are restricted to the sidelines and occasionally called up for advocacy purposes.
This raises major concerns about how strategic are we in harnessing our human resources and capitalizing on youthful exuberance for concrete climate solutions? Why is there no global instrument for youth participation and access modalities for climate finance and other means of implementation available to other actors? Neither the GEF, Adaptation Fund nor the newly established Green Climate Fund for example, have established mechanisms or funding window for youths. This is a critical omission that makes the playing field uneven for a clientele group who currently lacks the competitiveness under the funding criteria built around longevity in experience commonly underlying access modalities for these funds.
In response to this policy deficit at the national level, some countries such as Kenya, have resorted to quota systems in protecting youth share of participation in contract bidding processes in public procurement as part of inclusivity and wealth distribution. This is still to be scaled out into other national programmes.
A similar approach would be quite useful for institutionalization in the global climate change processes in identifying and nurturing youth initiatives and innovative solutions for climate change response.
Why are there no conditionalities for ensuring youth participation in climate change programmes at all levels of action including at the global level? Just like for gender, why is youth participation not enshrined in the conditions for fund access and implementation requirements for global climate finance instruments? Drawing from the early lessons in promoting gender engagement and participation in different aspects of workplace and solution spaces, similar approach for youth will be crucial in overcoming the exclusion and sidelining of youths especially in national implementation programmes. This is crucial for sustainability and catalyzing innovative solutions well rooted in a vibrant human resource pool.
Johnson N. Nkem (Ph.D.) is a Senior Climate Adaptation Expert with the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC), Special Initiative Division of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)
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Opinions expressed in the ACPC Climate Diaries are the authors’ personal views and do not represent the view of ACPC. ACPC accepts no liability for use of or reliance on information found on the Climate Diaries.