Giulia Camilla Braga
Program Manager – Connect4Climate, The World Bank Group
A year has passed since young climate leaders convened in Milan for a trailblazing international youth event, where they collaborated on a comprehensive list of demands for policymakers.
The delegates’ Youth4Climate Manifesto crisply articulated their shared vision of a sustainable future — but how have young people followed up?
Diversity in action
Reem Al-Saffar — a delegate from Iraq — was moved by the feelings of solidarity she experienced working on the manifesto to create the MENA Youth Network, a coalition of Middle Eastern and North African climate champions by and for young people. Already, she says, those in the network have been able to “accomplish a lot because of their diverse backgrounds and dedication to the cause.”
The ever-growing group recently partnered with the World Food Forum, conducting youth consultations on agrifood systems transformations in MENA (facilitating scientist-farmer dialogue, promoting sustainable agriculture education, etc.) that will benefit both land and labourers.
Sharing with the community
Humphrey Mrema, who represented Tanzania at Youth4Climate, now works alongside his country’s Ministry of Energy to give young people entrée into the renewable energy industry. “Through clean energy,” he says, “forest resources will be preserved, and the health of the community members will be safe.”
Connecting all of Mrema’s work is a commitment to showing those in power precisely what young people are capable of. That means youth working in the field, engaging personally with community members and sharing knowledge on sustainable cooking practices, for example. It also means capacity building — getting young people the help they need to launch green businesses and advocacy campaigns of their own.
Connecting all of Mrema’s work is a commitment to showing those in power precisely what young people are capable of.
The power for change
Sharing Mrema’s enthusiasm for community engagement is Joyce Mendez, a climate education champion who grew up on the triple border of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. Since she participated in Youth4Climate, Mendez has been hard at work with partners in the private sector and local government developing a multi-stakeholder initiative she calls ‘Aylluq Q’anchaynin’— Quechua for ‘The Light of the Family’ — that will bring solar power and green internet to the remote Peruvian village of Alto Mishagua. Mendez also played a key role in the coordination of COP27’s first-of-its-kind Children and Youth Pavilion, helping to ensure the youngest delegates felt seen and supported.
The youth at the fore of the climate movement have no intention of sitting on their laurels. Indeed, they are coming together to take action at a scale never before seen, and the rest of the world would do well to follow their sterling example.