The COP28 UAE’s Youth Climate Champion (YCC) is intensifying its dedication to inclusivity by driving global youth engagement, with a particular emphasis on amplifying young voices during Africa Climate Week in Nairobi, Kenya.
The YCC team launched a series of dynamic initiatives aimed at not only elevating youth concerns, but also underscoring their indispensable role in addressing the climate crisis.
Highlighting the team’s efforts, Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of Community Development and the Youth Climate Champion for COP28, stated, " With Africa being the world’s youngest continent, it is critical that we uplift the voices of the youth, especially those who have historically been marginalised. The COP28 presidency is committed to ensuring that the perspectives and aspirations of young individuals, particularly from Africa and the Global South, are at the core of our discussions."
On the sidelines of Africa Climate Week, Al Mazrui stood shoulder to shoulder with African youth, visiting climate-affected areas in Nairobi, notably Kibera which is the largest urban informal settlement in the capital city.
During her visit to Kibera, she met with youth leaders who championed solution-based initiatives to address the ramifications of climate change on their communities. To help bring the voices of Kibera to climate negotiations, Al Mazrui invited two members of the community to attend COP28 in the UAE in November.
Guided by the YCC strategic framework "PAVE" - Participation, Education, Voice, and Action – the team orchestrated a series of initiatives aligned with these essential pillars at Africa Climate Week.
In support of promoting youth participation, the team facilitated the attendance of 11 delegates from the COP28 International Youth Climate Delegate Programme at the Africa Climate Summit. The delegates actively participated in negotiations following comprehensive capacity-building sessions. Additionally, the team established a YCC Help Desk, providing a platform for youth to seek insights about the YCC's role, COP28, and engagement opportunities within the Blue and Green Zones.
On action, the YCC and YOUNGO collaborated on the delivery of several events. These events included a green job fair to support with young employment in critical industries and a networking session that spotlighted youth-led projects and connected them with philanthropies and venture funds for growth opportunities. Several of these YCC-led initiatives will be scaled up at COP28, including the Green Job Fair. The team organised a "Youth & Local Stocktake Event," in collaboration with YOUNGO, the official UN Youth and Children Constituency and ACE Hub delving into the synergies between local and youth-led stocktakes, effectively championing holistic commitments that echo the demands of children and youth.
A key focus on amplifying youth voices was showcased through Al Mazrui's intervention in the “Summary and Pathway to Nairobi and COP28 and Beyond” event in the presence of Simon Stiell, UNFCCC Executive Secretary. She highlighted the urgency of reassessing the status quo of youth participation in climate action and previous COPs. Promising that the Youth Climate Champion role will advance youth inclusion and set a comprehensive model for future COPs.
On education, the team presented African youth with the opportunity to explore the curated program of climate-focused online courses and certificate programs co-created with Coursera by distributing 250 free licenses to youth participants throughout the week. The team also organised an awareness ssession with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), entitled “From Ambition to Action" which highlighted the pivotal role of Youth Councils in Africa, fostering increased youth engagement as part of the UAE efforts to exchange best practices on youth inclusion.
In March 2023, the COP28 Youth Climate Champion launched its “International Youth Climate Delegates Programme”, the largest initiative of its kind to empower young people from around the world to fully participate in the COP process, with special focus to youth from least developed countries and small island developing states. With 100 delegates selected, 36 come from African descent.