The Role of Youth in Promoting Climate Justice and Sustainable Development

Can youths lead the path to a low-carbon resilient future? In a nutshell, the role of the youth in climate resilience formed the agenda of the 2018 National Youth Workshop on the Youth Agenda in the Implementation of SDGs and Paris Agreement in Kenya. The forum brought together youth from across the country to engage in an interactive consultative workshop that addresses the role of the youth in addressing climate change. Addressing the youth during the forum, the coordinator of the Kenya Climate Change Action Plan Stephen King’uyu prompted the youth to contribute to sustainable development by addressing the fundamental issues such as food security, health with the lenses of resilience to climate change. 

The interactive forum entailed sharing of experiences on the challenges and gaps that exist in Kenya in addressing the climate change menace. The youth raised a myriad of issues spanning from technical capacity, access to finance, policy implementation, monitoring and evaluation, access to information, public participation and corruption as some of the challenges that existwhile undertaking projects addressing climate change. 

An interesting component of the panel discussion was the youth-focusedinitiatives that the participants are undertaking to promote resilience to climate change. The different youth-focused initiatives demonstratethat young people are winning by capitalizing on entrepreneurship opportunities for addressing climate challenges. A few of the youth initiatives that are focal to climate change include; 

Waste Management: Jiamini Unaweza Youth Group in Migori County uses Hyacinth and paper waste to manufacture papers and sanitary towels; turning a weed into green gold.Eco-TilesKenya makes roofing tiles from plastic waste while Eco-burn manufactures briquettes from organic waste. 

Advocacy for Climate Action: The Magnetic Group through art influences behavior change towards environmental conservation in rural communities. The WeSustain Africa Initiative creates awareness on SDGs by encouraging the youth to design new solutions and products to the current socio-economic and environmental challenges in Africa.

Greening our Communities: The Adopt a Tree Initiative by Eco-Tiles Kenya is creating awareness at Primary School level on the role of pupils in environmental conservation steering the discussion on mainstreaming climate change education in the curriculum. 

Food Security: Ukulima Tech is promoting vertical farms that areaddressing local hunger issues and sustainability simultaneously.

National Climate Change Action Plan– The ongoing youth forum contributes to the 2018-2022 NCCAP that mainstreams the 2016 Climate Change Act (CCA) in the Government Development Agenda.

The above youth-focused initiatives demonstratethat the youth are at the frontline of climate resilience in Kenya. Closing the first day of the forum, the Climate Change Directorate deputy director Thomas Lerentennoted that the youth’s voice is fundamental in policies addressing intergenerational equity issues, a pivotal pillar in addressing climate change. 

By Stella Mutuku

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