Young people from the indigenous parts of Kenya have demanded for their involvement in climate change decisions in order to implement solutions for communities’ adaptation and resilience.
The youths, who converged for a three-day Local Conference for the youths, (LCOY) 2023 held in Kajiado County at African Nazarene University, gathered voices to make policies of what they want ahead of COP28.
Kajiado is among the counties in Kenya, which have been hit hard by climate change effects.
Led by the Kenya Climate Change Working Group (KCCWG) Youth Coordinator, Lynn Modester, the youths rallied their voices seeking for answers to the kind of policies of finance that would help them implement their activities from the grassroots level.
Modester acknowledged that the youths who are primarily victims of climate change as well as contributors to the solutions, lack clear information on where and how to access climate funds.
“Not every funding mechanism is accessible to the grassroots. We have to understand where the small grant mechanisms are present so that youths can be able to access and be able to know the aspect of collaboration in terms of financing they can be able to get to”, Modester said.
The LCOY 2023 under the theme of ‘Bridging the Gap between Policy and Practice’, was sponsored by KCCWG and African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC) in collaboration with other climate change actors.
Roseline Pepela who is head of programs for Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) said that there is a crucial need for the indigenous people to be educated on how to access climate funds because they suffer losses and damages from climate change effects.
“I want to take you back to the rural areas and look at how our women, youths and the indigenous people adapt to climate situation. Talking about climate financing, where are the funds? How do our youths access climate financing in order to build their resilience”, Pepela remarked.
She added that most climate funds are directed to the private sectors, national and county governments but there is no clear information on access by the indigenous communities.
“We want the youths to be the agents of change such that with the information they get, they can go back to the community, talk to their people and advocate for climate financing at the community level in order to get into the space themselves”, Pepela urged.
“We want to transform our youth led actions into the policies that we are going to spearhead at cop 28, take the policies back to our national adaptation platform and stream it again back to the community for ownership process so as to build community resilience for the youths, women and indigenous people”, She added.
Rukia Ahmed a champion of Climate change from Wajir County, who is also the founder of Green NorthEastern Initiative (GNEI), insisted that the Youths have a role to play in addressing climate change at the local level.
She reported that Wajir is faced with a challenge of food security and thus training the community on agriculture would mitigate the adverse effects of climate change.
Climate Smart Agriculture Interventions and Climate Finance were among the core thematic areas that the youths discussed in the LCOY 2023.
According to Rukia, communities in the rural areas are in a better position to bring change if they are educated on how climate change affects them directly.
“We young people suffer the effects of losses and damage as a result of Climate change. We have big ideas and solutions to the situation but when it comes to mechanisms of finance from the government, it becomes very complicated”, Rukia said
“Climate finances are going to the people who have much power, making it hard for the indigenous youth to access. If we are not on the table and with no access to the negotiations, decisions made on our behalf will affect us”, she added.
Rukia called upon climate actors to effectively involve the youths in the decision-making processes.
She stated that there is enough that can be done to equip the youths with sustainable programs on climate change beyond just the usual capacity building.
Africa Climate and Environment Foundation (ACEF) Country Director, Neville Agesa, said that the youth in the rural areas lack proper education on carbon credit.
“When climate finance comes, it comes with a big application and demands, most youths in the grassroots do not possess the right information and the demands to access the finance”, Agesa said.
Agesa disputed the allegations that the youths are sitting back lazily to wait for quick cash, countering that the most youths never meet the high demands and requirements to gain access to climate funds.
Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) project officer, Valentine Cherotich, questioned the space of women, youths, People With Disabilty (PWDs) and indigenous people on climate change action.
“There is a gap in knowledge on climate change among youths and thus we are here to make sure that the youths voices are heard. You find that when it gets to climate change discussions, youths only participate without involvement”, Cherotich said.
LCOY 2023 sponsors and partners vowed to fundraise for at least six youths across Kenya to attain accreditation and funding to attend COP28 that will be held in Dubai on December 2023.
The conference, which saw youths practically assimilating COP28 Procedure, intensified representation and inclusivity to highlight youth voices in Climate change action.