Youth seizing the moment to drive sustainable dev’t top agenda at AYC 2024


By Juliet ETEFE

Amidst the pressing global challenges of climate change and environmental degradation, a primary takeaway from the Strategic Youth Network for Development’ (SYND), African Youth Conference (AYC) 2024 is the need for the youths to seize the moment to drive sustainable development.

With a focus on amplifying youth-led solutions to environmental issues, discussants at AYC 2024 advocated for the involvement of young people in the governance of the Natural Resources & Environmental (NRE) sector, highlighting the indispensable role of youths in driving positive change.

The three-day conference held in Accra convened young people making an impact in the NRE sector from various African Countries including; Togo, Benin, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and many more.

In a keynote address, Roselyn Fosuah Adjei, Director for Climate Change at the Forestry Commission and National REDD+ Focal Point inspired the youth to better position themselves to drive positive change in the sector.

She emphasised the critical need of building relevant capacity, urging them not to adhere to the status quo, instead, embrace innovation and develop homegrown solutions to tackle the impending climate crisis.

The director stressed the need for innovations that are relatable and resonate with the challenges faced as key to addressing climate change.

She further highlighted the qualities of passion and being result oriented as crucial elements in addressing climate change effectively, urging the youth to channel their energy and enthusiasm into tangible outcomes that contribute to sustainability efforts.

She also encouraged the youths to embrace mentorship, recognising the invaluable guidance and support it offers in personal and professional development.

In addition to individual growth and having confidence in their abilities, she emphasised the significance of collaboration and partnership in addressing climate change.

Ms. Fosuah Adjei charged the youth to actively engage in the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC)- a climate action plan to cut emissions and adapt to climate impacts– development process, advocating for daring boldness in their endeavors to drive progress towards a sustainable future.

For his part, the Founder and Executive Coordinator of the SYND, Chibeze Ezekiel, expressed optimism about youth involvement in shaping future climate action plans.

Sharing insights into the conference’s significance and the role of young people in driving sustainable development, he underscored the crucial role of youth participation in shaping policies, citing provisions in national youth policies across Africa.

“The key message I want to share is that every country in Africa, if we do some research, we realize that in all their youth policies, in all their youth strategies, their provisions, they talk about youth participation in this issue. So if young people do not know, it means that they are being shortchanged or they are not getting involved in the processes,” he noted.

Reflecting on Ghana’s progress towards sustainable development goals, Mr. Ezekiel highlighted challenges such as lack of coordination among ministries and conflicting policies, stressing the need for a harmonious approach to achieve the goals.

He stressed the need for concrete actions rather than mere advocacy, emphasising practical initiatives to improve the environment.

He said, after the conference, SYND will issue a communication or outcome document showcasing young people’s views and ideas, facilitating collaboration and partnership towards finding lasting solution.

Programme Officer, West Africa at Ford Foundation, key supporter of the AYC 2024, Mr. Emmanuel Kuyole, commended SYND and the youthful participants advising them to be responsible youth leaders.

He also applauded their dedication to finding innovative solutions to climate challenges.

Mr. Kuyole reassured Ford Foundation’s unwavering support for sustainable and inclusive development efforts.

The conference

The conference featured enlightening presentations, engaging panel discussions, and interactive breakout sessions that delved into various topics, such as the Role of Young People in Natural Resource Governance; Mining’s Impact on Biodiversity and Forestry, and Agriculture and Food Systems; and Energy Transition.

Amidst discussions on climate change at the sessions, emphasis was placed on the significant role of African’s voices in the global discourse, recognising the disproportionate impact faced by African communities despite their minimal contribution to greenhouse gas emissions.

The event provided a platform for young Africans to make their works seen and their voices heard, driving home the purpose of the youth as the backbone of every nation.

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