Empowering Tomorrow: Youth Leading the Way in Climate Resilience

The Wangari Maathai Institute (WMI) The Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) hosted the Intergenerational Dialogue during the Africa Climate Summit, where young people from 135 countries worldwide joined forces to advocate for a significant increase in adaptation finance and the active inclusion of youth in adaptation decision-making and actions. The Youth4Adaptation Community presented at this event, represented the voices of young individuals hailing from 51 African nations whose message was on the urgent need to double adaptation finance by 2025 in order to adapt successfully.

In his powerful address, Former United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, now the chairperson of the Global Center on Adaptation and who opened the dialogue issued a passionate challenge to the younger generation, urging them to exercise their rights and make their voices heard. He emphasized the importance of embracing global citizenship and transcending national boundaries in the face of shared global challenges. His message was clear: young people should step forward and actively contribute to building climate resilience.

The Vice Chancellor Professor Kiama, , warmly welcomed participants to the Africa Intergenerational Dialogue alongside the Africa Climate Summit. He highlighted the significance of involving youth voices in addressing the climate crisis, stressing the proverb "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together." He acknowledged the youth as active contributors and agents of change, expressing gratitude to esteemed guests like former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and climate experts such as Prof. Patrick Verkohooijen. Prof. Kiama also announced an exciting partnership with the University of Groningen on climate adaptation governance and called for collaboration to empower youth as change-makers in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

During the event, Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank, made a significant announcement, launching a $1 billion youth facility dedicated to climate adaptation efforts in Africa. He emphasized the Bank's $12.5 billion commitment to Africa's Adaptation Acceleration Programme and the urgent need to address climate change's substantial economic impact on the continent. Adesina stated unequivocally that investing in African youth is crucial for a sustainable future.

Cabinet Secretary Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts, Ababu Namwamba  also made a noteworthy declaration, revealing plans to recruit 1 million young people into the Green Army, a vital initiative aimed at planting 15 billion trees by 2032 to combat climate change. He affirmed the Kenyan government's unwavering commitment to climate change adaptation efforts.

Dr. Patrick Veerkoijen, CEO of GCA and Distinguished Chair of WMI, emphasized that it is time for Africa to lead the conversation and take immediate action on climate change. He stressed the urgency of the situation, declaring, "Adapt or die." Africa is at the forefront of climate change's devastating effects, and action is required urgently.

The event also showcased Youth4Adaptation, one of the pillars under the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP), a joint initiative of GCA and ADB. AAAP, endorsed at the Leaders' Dialogue on the Africa Covid-Climate Emergency in April 2021, aims to mobilize $25 billion over the next five years to accelerate and scale climate adaptation action across the continent. Africa, which contributes only three percent of global emissions, loses billions of dollars annually to climate change.

In conclusion, the high-level intergenerational dialogue at the Africa Climate Summit, led by Ban Ki-moon, emphasized the pivotal role of youth in climate adaptation and resilience-building efforts in Africa. It brought together leaders, organizations, and governments committed to empowering the younger generation to combat climate change and secure a sustainable future for the continent.