he climate crisis is a lived reality for billions of young people around the world. 2023 is on track to be the hottest year ever recorded, with record-breaking heatwaves taking place around the world. The Horn of Africa is experiencing the longest and most severe drought on record, in Canada 12 million hectares have been ravaged by forest fires, and in July, Beijing faced the heaviest rainfall since records began over 140 years ago.
Yet the impacts of climate change are not felt equally, with young people inheriting a rapidly warming world. The world is home to the largest population of young people in history, with 42% of the global population under the age of 25. Almost nine out of ten of these young people live in developing countries, which are more vulnerable to climate impacts. In Africa, the youth population is projected to reach 830 million by 2050. The consequences of climate breakdown are disproportionately impacting their lives and livelihoods.
In the battle against climate change, every fraction of a degree matters. The landmark IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report last year showed that current policies will result in global warming of 2.8 ◦C by 2100. Mitigation efforts are critical to reduce further global warming and prevent further losses and damages. At the same time, we have no other option but to also prepare for the changes already happening.
The adaptation agenda is a youth agenda and a jobs agenda. Adaptation actions offer a powerful triple dividend: they avoid economic losses, bring positive economic benefits, and deliver social and environmental benefits. For example, adaptation action in Africa has the potential to equip young people with the skills and resources to become the entrepreneurs that will power the continent’s economic ascent while reducing the impacts of extreme climate events.
GCA is creating adaptation jobs through our flagship Africa Youth Adaptation Solutions Challenge (YouthADAPT), through which we have already disbursed over USD 3 million for projects like Chris Ayale’s KivuGreen initiative. This youth-led enterprise provides real-time forecasts and climate-smart agricultural advice in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, resulting in a 40% rise in agricultural yield and a 30% increase in income for its small-scale farmer users.
Unlocking the untapped potential of African youth to drive resilience and green enterprises is one of the key pillars under the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP). The AAAP is the world’s largest adaptation program with a USD 25 billion ambition over five years, and has already influenced over $5.4 billion of adaptation investments, mainstreaming adaptation in large-scale development projects across the continent.
Young people have the ambition, vision and energy to create a climate-resilient future. In support of the Africa Climate Summit in Kenya in September, GCA is convening a High-Level Intergenerational Dialogue, uniting the voices of young people and global leaders for adaptation, and providing a crucial milestone on the road to COP28. Responding to the need for increased youth involvement in adaptation policy- and decision-making in Africa and globally, we are publishing a guide on youth engagement with National Adaptation Plans and are rolling out our ‘Toolkit for Youth on Leadership & Adaptation’.
At COP28, countries will debate the first Global Stocktake of the Paris Agreement and the Global Goal on Adaptation. The Global Stocktake will tell us just how much more there is to do to secure a livable planet and the Global Goal will tell us what we need to do to get back on track.It is crucial that these help deliver a turning point for present and future generations and that young people should be a part of these key processes.
Young people have a critical role in the journey towards a more prosperous and resilient world. Solutions exist, many developed by young people, waiting to be scaled up and accelerated. GCA is proud to work with young people in our mission to act as a solutions broker for a climate resilient world. I hope more young people will join the thousands already playing their part in the youth adaptation movement, join the
Youth Adaptation Network, apply to the YouthADAPT Challenge, and together build a more prosperous and sustainable future for all.