Hundreds of young African faith-based climate activists have been cooperating across the continent in preparation to influence the upcoming climate talks at COP27 in Egypt next week.
This week more than 20 have gathered to influence the over 1000 delegates from 44 countries attending the All Africa Youth Congress being held in Ghana.
They are calling for wealthy nations to fulfil their climate finance commitments of $100 billion a year – but also to make sure the money is invested directly into the communities most affected by climate change and to make sure the money is given as grants and not loans to avoid growing African debt levels.
The wealthy nations, who caused the climate crisis, must show leadership and accountability in providing climate finance. The faith communities and young people should play an important role in this localisation process to ensure the finances are invested fruitfully. One option, Investing finance in green jobs for young people will both boost resilience and innovate around new forms of climate friendly economic activity.
The activists are raising their voices in the hope that the experiences and priorities of those grassroots communities directly affected by climate change will be taken into account by the official government negotiators.
In Malawi, for example, Malawi Creation Care Network (MCCN) Voluntary National Coordinator, Charles Bakolo while describing the conference in the African concept of ‘Ubuntu’ meaning humanity or ‘I am because you are’, said Africa as a continent should work as one if we are to realise our potential.
He called on the youth in Malawi to be ambassadors of a clean environment.
“We cannot create a home with dirty surroundings and we cannot leave a better future for the next generation unless we combat deforestation that has engulfed our country Malawi. Let us prioritize using alternatives to clean energy. And most important let the government remove taxes imposed on clean energy.
“The impacts of climate change change is seen on an increased incidence of floods and drought. Malawi’s vulnerability to climate change is exacerbated by high population growth, rapid deforestation, and widespread soil erosion. We are not doing well in curbing climate change,” he said
Bakolo added: “Let the youth start planting and growing trees like there is no tomorrow. This will make a big difference. Throughout its life, a tree can absorb and restore up to a ton of carbon dioxide”.
This week in Ghana they will continue to advocate for climate action in four side events, growing the level of organising amongst young faith leaders and influencing the written commitments emerging from the AAYC.
Climate change has is already on the agenda at the AAYC. The Pan Africa Climate Alliance (PACJA) Africa climate torch stopped at the AAYC opening ceremony on Tuesday 1 November.
The Climate Justice Torch initiative is designed to amplify untold climate impact stories of Africa ahead of the 27th Conference of Parties (COP 27) in Egypt. This was the climate torches final stop before moving to COP27 next week.
Similarly a group of the young climate activists will travel to COP next week to continue to spread their message of climate action.