Climate Experts call for Agenda 2063 to be anchored on youths
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19 October 2016
Author :   Friday Phiri
Discassants at the CCDA-VI : >> Image Credits by:Atayi Babs

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (PAMACC News) - 'Never to have any dealings with human beings, never to engage in trade, never to make use of money’ – is one of the famous extract defining the principle of Animalism in George Orwell’s Fable, Animal Farm. While it has over the years associated with political hypocrisy, there seems to be some positive lessons especially for Africa’s 2063 Agenda in relation to challenges that climate change poses to the continent, and the role of young people to achieve it.

Whilst Africa at present contributes less than 5% of global carbon emissions, it bears the brunt of the impact of climate change. Poverty, migration, disease and economic malaise characterise the continent and climate change is worsening these conditions. In its number one aspiration for Agenda 2063, Africa wants to see inclusive growth and sustainable development.

And to achieve this goal, the continent has prioritized climate adaptation in all actions, drawing upon skills of diverse disciplines with adequate support (affordable technology development and transfer, capacity building, financial and technical resources) to ensure implementation of actions for the survival of the most vulnerable populations, including islands states, and for sustainable development and shared prosperity.

However, Mithika Mwenda, Secretary General of the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), believes the achievement of the 2063 dream requires some kind of a rebellion, just like the Animals rebelled against the tyranny of Man in ‘Animal Farm.’

“Agenda 2063 is like animal farm, it is a rebellion against climate change, against poverty, against all kinds of suffering and economic malaise, just like the animals rebelled against man’s tyranny,” said Mwenda during a panel discussion at the Sixth Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA VI), currently holding in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

To avoid being misunderstood because of the negative connotation that ‘Animal Farm’ is associated with, Mwenda was quick to explain his rebellion comments:

“It must be understood that the rebellion I am referring to is symbolic, the animals that fought for ‘Animalism’ did not live to see it to fruition but the younger generation. The implementation of the agenda 2063 is about the young people, it is a long term project, and will only be implemented by the younger ones who should now be given the mantle to lead these processes,” added the PACJA chief.

With a seven-point plan, Agenda 2063 is a 50-year strategic blueprint which is both a vision and an action plan that calls for action to all segments of African society to work together to build a prosperous and united Africa based on shared values and a common destiny.

But with Africa’s young people largely neglected in development processes, there is a danger that the continent’s aspirations as enshrined in the 2063 Agenda could be in jeopardy.

James Murombedzi, Officer in Charge of the Africa Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, believes time for action is now, and wants to see the younger generation use their energy to call for action.

“I would rather not use the metaphor of animal farm, the metaphor of rebellion, but what I think should happen is that there is a serious urgency to climate action, and what I want to see is young people use the energy to call for action now, it is not a challenge for the future it is for now,” said Murombedzi.

He cited the 1.5 degrees debate as one issue that requires urgency. “You see, already the 1.5 degrees debate is being pushed further as if to wait until we get there before action is taken, and yet this is an urgent matter and I think young people must come in to demand action now,” the ACPC chief added.

Interestingly, the youths are fired up but they have reservations regarding their involvement in the continent’s development agenda.

“The youth are the future of Africa, all the development agendas being developed should be anchored on young people. But in terms of leadership mantle transition, we are still lugging behind because our leaders don’t trust young people, they see them as a threat, they see young people as naïve…but we will rise and fight for climate justice and ensure that 2063 is a reality,” said Ibrahim Cessay of the Africa Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC), a network of African youth organizations and individuals working on climate change & sustainable development.

And Abel Musumali of the ClimDev Youth Platform agrees with Cessay on the need to engage young people saying “climate change is about both short and long term planning, under for Agenda 2063 to be achieved, we should be involved now in solving the climate change problem which has a bearing on our future, otherwise, we are doomed.”

Agenda 2063 heralds Africa’s dream for development in the next 50 years. And Dr. Seth Osafo, former legal advisor at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) secretariat, would like to see investments in scientific research especially for young scientists.

“We need to develop young people’s expertise at the highest level to contribute positively in their country processes. There are already some experts in all the other areas but we need a lot of research scientists, and I look forward to having a programme soon that could be mentoring young scientists for Africa to be much involved in the climate scientific governance framework considering that climate change threatens to hinder Africa’s aspirations as enshrined in the Agenda 2063,” concludes Osafo.

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