Finding solutions to unfolding climate crisis with Ghana’s youth

BY: Abraham Bugre & Michael Nana-Kojo Appiah
Youth delegates at the Ghana Local Conference of Youth on Climate Change
Youth delegates at the Ghana Local Conference of Youth on Climate Change

We are honoured to be Ghana’s youth delegates to the COP26 - expected to be the most important event on global climate action this decade.
Today (Friday) - a day reserved for the youth  we are joining the global call for endorsement of the COP Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action and a stronger engagement of the youth in climate action.

UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Risk Index (2021) found that children and the youth in Ghana, West and Central Africa are disproportionately at risk from climate change and environmental factors.

The unfolding climate crisis affects every facet of our life, intensifying unemployment, inequality and food insecurity, and threatening the resilience of our society.

Statement

With over 70 per cent of Ghanaians under the age of 35, this is a real emergency and we need to mobilise youth voices on climate change.

In what was Sub-Saharan Africa’s first, Ghanaian youth climate advocates organised the Local Conference of Youth (LCOY) prior to COP26.

LCOY’s two major achievements include the development of a National Youth Climate Change Statement for policy advocacy and the establishment of the Youth Climate Council (YCC) for more structured and sustained youth participation.

The statement underlines the need for a stronger youth focus and engagement in policy and decision-making and the development of a green economy.

It identifies investments in youth innovation and climate education as effective strategies to tap into young people’s change-making potential and will drive policy and public advocacy at the national and global level.

Ambition

Our ambition is that the YCC will be a real game-changer in promoting a common voice for youth climate advocacy in Ghana.

It will support youth climate organisations to strengthen capacity, engage with each other and with government, and the private sector.

As youth advocates, we are committed to work in partnership with all stakeholders to deliver YCC’s ambition and offer a model for youth participation for other sectors in Ghana as well as other countries.

Globally and in Ghana, the youth are the forerunners in the fight against climate change as scholars, innovators, entrepreneurs and advocates.

The government needs to leverage this youth expertise, build our capacities and skills on climate action and expand the spaces for our active participation.

Youth innovation and entrepreneurship at the community and national level can drive context-specific solutions to the climate crisis and empower young Ghanaians to be agents of change with small and big actions.

A government fund allocated to youth-led mitigation and adaptation initiatives on climate change may provide a ground-breaking tool to accelerate young people’s actions.

It is imperative to increase climate investments which focus on the youth and share a seat at the highest climate decision-making table with the youth.

Appeal

We want to draw the big picture and be part of policy decisions together with other stakeholders.

We appeal to the government to endorse the COP Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action reiterating its commitment to ensure youth participation and youth-centred climate policies and actions at the national level.

The future belongs to the youth.

This statement must not be reduced to mere rhetoric.

The world and Ghana must move to real action and practical solutions which include the youth and transform our realities and futures.

Perhaps, it is time for world leaders, policymakers, climate activists and stakeholders to look at climate change through the lens of the youth and work alongside us to drive change.

The writers are COY16 Western and Southern Africa Coordinator and Coordinator, Youth Climate Council, respectively, who are both COP26 Youth Delegates