On 29 October, Foundation board member and renowned journalist Zeinab Badawi was joined by members of our Now Generation Network (NGN) to discuss how climate change is affecting Africa and the lives of Africans, and the role that Africa’s youth can play in helping the continent manage this challenge.
The conversation began by exploring how far the global debate about climate change resonates within Africa. The question “Who is Africa’s Greta Thunberg?” provoked a lively response about the importance of homegrown responses.
Strategies of protest and civil disobedience that have worked in the West, like the Extinction Rebellion protests, largely have no place in African countries because of the stifled civil discourse space. We have to evolve African context-specific strategies involving young people.
-Iseoluwa Akintunde, Now Generation Network member
Noting that Africa is responsible for a fraction of global emissions, the discussion then turned to how Africa’s needs can be overlooked in a global conversation focussed on mitigation.
The debate on climate change, by which I mean the global conversation, is dominated by the concerns of the global north about mitigation. We need to talk about adaptation and resilience in the African context.
-Abdoulie Kurang, Now Generation Network member
Climate change is fundamentally an ecological problem, but it is also a financial crisis. African countries need to access financing to respond to the enormity of the challenge and that will require support from wealthier nations.
When trying to raise climate finance, funders often try to box you into mitigation or adaptation and resilience projects. What if what we are trying to do can respond to both, say for instance rural electrification, whereby you are doing mini-grids powered by solar with diesel back-up? We need to orientate the conversation around access to finance in an equitable and fair manner that supports a just transition.
-Mohamed Youba Sokona, Now Generation Network member
Throughout the conversation, NGN members expressed their optimism that Africa can rise to the challenge of climate change by tapping into the creativity and energy of its young people.
Our continent is endowed with lots of innovators, lots of young people who have brilliant ideas. But they simply do not have access to the resources that will allow them to unlock and scale up those ideas… This continent has so much to offer. We should own our own story, as people who understand the reality on the ground.
-Barkha Mossae, Now Generation Network member
This intergenerational conversation is part of the Foundation’s In conversation with… series, which is connecting young Africans and the Foundation’s leadership around issues that matter most to the continent’s youth.
Watch the discussion: