NAIROBI, March 17 (Xinhua) -- The speedy transition to a just, equitable and green future in Africa will be dependent on leveraging the creative energy and tenacity of the continent's youthful population, campaigners said on Friday.
Mithika Mwenda, executive director of Nairobi-based Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), underscored the critical role of the youth in advocating for policies, laws and innovative financing required to boost the continent's resilience in the face of climate change.
Mwenda spoke in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, during the call for applications for the third cohort of PACJA-initiated Nairobi Summer School on Climate Justice that aims to groom the next generation of green champions in the continent.
He said that Africa's resilience to the climate crisis that has devastated economies, livelihoods and ecosystems will be hinged on tapping into youth-pioneered advocacy for carbon-free production and consumption systems coupled with enhanced protection of the continent's natural assets.
Mwenda noted that African youth face a bleak future unless governments and funders took proactive measures to arrest runaway carbon emissions that were to blame for recurrent droughts, cyclones and emergence of lethal pathogens.
"The climate crisis is impacting agriculture, livelihoods and slowing down implementation of Africa's Agenda 2063 on growth and transformation," he said. "We, therefore, require the youth to offer viable solutions."
More than 700 African youth have participated in the Nairobi Summer School for Climate Justice since its inception in 2020. The program blends training, capacity-building, mentorship and field visits to prepare them for a role in advocating for a carbon-neutral future for the continent.
PACJA Head of Policy, Advocacy and Communication Philip Kilonzo said the summer school has inspired African youth to raise awareness of the plight of grassroots communities bearing the brunt of the climate crisis.
He said the youth who have been mentored under the program have utilized their skills and competencies to implement resilience programs in the continent's climate hotspots, and that the conversation on a just transition, climate financing, compensation for loss and damage, equity and inclusivity at the global level has been robust, driven by African youth.
Nancy Githaiga, Kenya country director at the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), said youth-led interventions will be key to placing the continent on a green and resilient development pathway. ■