APA – Nairobi (Kenya) – The first African Climate Summit, which opened in Kenya on Monday, was attended by a wide range of people, including young Africans who no longer want to have to put up with political decisions designed to combat climate change without saying a word.
With just under three months to go to the Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, the first African Climate Summit was held on Monday 4 September in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, bringing together leading figures and “hundreds of young people” from across the continent who now want to be involved in the climate decision-making process.
Addressing President William Ruto and several of his counterparts, the young Africans asked to “play an important role” in actions to combat climate change, which, among other factors, is forcing people in many African countries to live in precarious conditions.
According to a press release received by APA, their declaration was “the high point” of the African Youth Climate Assembly held in the Kenyan capital from 1 to 3 September. In particular, they called for “the rapid creation of a global green bank and the development of a new global financial pact, in order to give them priority and protect their interests in the financing of the fight against climate change.”
The youth delegates also “called for the creation of a United Nations office for youth to be based in Africa, the continent with the largest number of young people on the planet.” These calls clearly indicate that the participants, like the activists, “did not mince their words” at this meeting, considered to be the first of its kind on climate in Africa.
Dynamism and innovation
They “denounced the host of the event, William Ruto, the President of Kenya, and the African Heads of State and Government Committee on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), for putting Western interests ahead of those of Africa,” said Charity Migwi, Regional Campaigner for Africa at 350.org, an international movement working to end the fossil fuel era and build a world where renewable energy supported by local people is accessible to all.
“What Africans want most from this summit is a firm commitment to phasing out fossil fuels on the continent, and to harnessing Africa’s renewable energy potential on a massive scale,” Migwi said.
Responding to the young people who challenged African leaders during the session moderated by Elizabeth Watuthi, senior coordinator of the African Youth Climate Assembly, President Ruto praised African youth for their “dynamism and sense of innovation,” saying that they are “the greatest asset of the continent and the whole world.”
That is why he said he was in tune with these young people when they said they wanted to be more involved in defining national and international climate policies. For the Kenyan Head of State, young Africans have a real role to play in view of their continent’s agricultural potential, characterized by its “vast uncultivated land (65 percent of the world total),” which could “promote job creation and stimulate wealth.”
The Kenyan example
Giving the example of his country, Uhuru Kenyatta’s successor recalled his government’s initiative to create smart cities to combat unsustainable human settlements and reduce pollution, with the aim of promoting environmentally sustainable development. He said that his government had allocated ‘the largest budget in the history of the country’ to education, at 630 billion Kenyan shillings (around $433 million), which represents more than 27 percent of the annual budget. “One of the ways of investing in young people is to provide them with quality education and skills to help them meet the challenges of the future,” Mr Ruto said.
Taking part in the ceremony, the President of the African Development Bank (ADB), Akinwumi Adesina, stressed the crucial nature of investing in young people to promote growth and stability in Africa. “The greatest risk on this continent is not to invest in young people,” Mr. Adesinawarned, noting that “young people need investment, not empowerment.”