BY LIZ NYUKURI
The world is in a race to combat climate change impacts with adoption of measures to drastically reduce emissions now more urgent than ever.
Emissions anywhere affects people everywhere regardless of borders and boundaries.
Africa contributes the least to global warming yet is disproportionately affected by the significant climate change impacts in weather patterns, water supply and eco-systems.
Climate response strategies are crucial to foster a sustainable future.
In Africa’s march to increase its renewable share, several countries in the region are showing firm commitment towards use of more resilient, modern and clean energy leading the much needed energy transition efforts.
The Untapped Reservoir
The continent boasts of abundant renewable resources to be exploited but African youths are a resource which when tapped into can enable quicker realization of Africa’s sustainability agenda.
60% of the African population is below the age of 25 years and the youth in Africa expected to account for over 40% of global youth by 2030. Africa’s population is expected to grow by 50% over the next 20 years with the youth accounting for a huge share of this growth.
These bulging numbers should be indication enough that Africa’s quest for a greener future is banked on the engagement of its growing human capital reservoir, whose role in bringing the transformation, is pivotal.
It is evident that there is need to fully engage and harness the creativity, capacity and fresh perspective the youth offer and channel it to accelerating the green agenda.
As the region increases efforts towards sustainable development goals, opportunities arise to bring on board young people not just as beneficiaries but as partners and contributors.
Recognizing young people as doers to bring about the positive change we need, is a critical step. There is need to deploy efforts and policies that appeal to the enthusiasm and ambition of the younger generation that they may remain lifelong partners and key contributors to the green agenda.
Mentorship programs like the Youth in Energy Empowerment Program (YEEP) in Kenya, equips, trains and provide opportunities for young graduates to be part of the solution.
Investing in youth centered approaches and awareness creates an opportunity for the young people to identify and address challenges directly affecting their lives and that of the community.
Additionally, involving young people offers potential to add to community awareness and support the sustainability effort.
Governments and necessary stake holders need to realize that as we work on solutions to address environmental, climate and energy problems, young people are part of this solution both today and tomorrow.
The youth are not just the leaders of tomorrow but potential change makers today.