Setting the pace for meaningful youth engagement wears so many faces but first, it starts with the young people themselves acknowledging the role they play in the current ecosystem which is critical in the climate conversations; however, many institutions have been designed in a manner that bars them from fully participating .
Following the aforementioned, the Green Africa Youth Organization acknowledges these barriers thus through its mission, is empowering and setting the pace for inclusive youth participation in climate policy discussions.
Young people continue to report unemployment, political rivalries, poor health systems, and limited access to justice as key contributors affecting their lives (World Youth Report 2018). These do not only detracts them from their wellbeing, but it prevents societies from designing inclusive policies and social services that are fair for all ages. Therefore, a growing sense of hopelessness and mistrust towards governments’ willingness and ability to tackle the eminent climate challenges amongst youth is growing steadily in Uganda (UNDP 2022).
On the 13th and 14th of October 2022, GAYO Uganda with support from other partners including; Girls for Climate Action, Cherish Aid Foundation, UNDP Uganda, British High Comission, YOUNGO, Ministry of Water and Environment (MoWE), Development Partners, African Youth Initiative on Climate Change and other Youth Led organizations under the Forum for Children and Youth on Environment and Climate Action, held the first youth policy training workshop in Kampala Uganda. The rationale of this workshop was to build the capacity of young individuals and organisations on international climate policies and its processes including negotiations, and how they can position themselves to follow up on or contribute meaningfully.
Taking into consideration the Uganda Local Conference Of Youth (LCOY) and the Conference Of Parties (COP) that happened in Egypt.
Just like everywhere else in the world, young people in Uganda continue to take on a leading role in influencing, advocating, and demanding for responsible climate behavior with stronger political will from governments and the private sectors (World Bank 2019). During the two days workshop, the participants had the opportunity to frame the discussions, hone key recommendations and messages which were included in the youth global statement for COP27. Most importantly, proposing key priorities of action for different groups of stakeholders and how those can be advanced before, during and beyond COP 27.
Speaking at the launch of the Children and Youth Forum on Environment and Climate Action, Louise Ellis MBE, Chargés D’Affaires at the British High Commission Kampala said ‘the UK are committed to playing a leading role in tackling climate change and we advocated to government the importance of the youth voice and the importance of a coordinated approach for that youth voice to engage Government of Uganda on policy change. I would encourage and challenge you, now that the forum is formally launched, to continue to push for ambition and for action, but to ensure that you do so in a collaborative way, recognising this shared objective of tackling climate change and building Uganda’s resilience to its impacts: that way you will be able to hold government and all of us to account for climate action’. This speech was made known at the Uganda local conference of youth where GAYO, collaboratively joined key stakeholders to bring together more than 100 stakeholders together to design the Ugandan youth statement to be submitted at the Conference of Parties,
Today, as we look beyond and take more bold moves of action, lessons learnt from the formulation of Uganda’s first NDC’s in 2015 and the progress made towards its implementation that inspired the revision of the NDC upward in 2030, continues to be unpacked through the “capacity building” initiative. As GAYO, we believe that identifying the components of the NDC which is almost all countries bible for climate action and factors that support the implementation of the National Development Plans is key in setting the pace for youth engagement.
In conclusion, it was agreed at the Uganda LCOY that, creating an understanding of the role young people play within the process of policy formulation as well as implementation will always be top on the agenda. This allows for the Identification of key entry points to enable young people better support NDC implementation and claim associated opportunities; financial, capacity building and technological innovations).
GAYO Uganda believes that youth involvement in climate policy discussion is key and thus the need for strengthened stakeholder participation, more capacity building initiative and financial allocations for local and indigenous climate action.
Providing solutions to pressing environmental issues through youth empowerment, skills development and public education should not be GAYO’s sole mission but everyone’s mandate