SA’s first-ever youth climate action plan is under way
Durban – As the fight against global warming continues across the globe, more than 150 young South Africans have so far contributed to the country’s first-ever Youth Climate Action Plan (YCAP), which is a civil-society effort to consolidate young perspectives on the issue of climate change.
The plan, compiled by the youth arm of the South African Institute of International Affairs (SAIIA), is supported through funding from the European Union and Germany.
Head of youth programmes at SAIIA, Desirée Kosciulek, says the YCAP highlights the impact of climate change on young South Africans and provides an outline of the actions young people want to see taken in response.
“People often talk about the youth’s position on climate change as their stake in the future, but they often do not realise the current impact on young people. Just think of the extreme weather increasingly experienced all over the world.
“The input from young South Africans have made a significant contribution to the global conversations so far. They are bringing up issues of social justice and climate justice. They are positioning climate change as not just being about the environment, but something that impacts gender-based violence, poverty, that has links to racism and employment”.
Youth inclusivity is an integral element in progressively moving our world towards a sustainable and greener way of life. Youth participation, throughout the world, will also reduce the need to convince future generations of how important dealing with climate change is for our future.
According to European Union Ambassador Riina Kionka, the EU is now turning its political aim of becoming the first climate neutral continent by 2050 into a legal commitment.
“This makes it a binding pledge not only to our citizens, their children and their children’s children, but also to our international partners who told us how important it is for the EU to lead on the green path. I am delighted that also in South Africa, communities, companies and organisations – thanks to an active citizenry notably young South Africans – are playing their part to fight climate change.”
“The Covid-19 pandemic has given us a unique opportunity for a just and green recovery that anyone can participate in and contribute to. I want us to keep working as partners together with the government in this fight towards a more sustainable world. This definitely requires our combined forces,” says Kionka.
President Cyril Ramaphosa was one of 40 world leaders participating at the Leaders’ Summit on Climate change hosted by US president Joe Biden on Thursday.
“South Africa remains committed to contributing its fair share to reduce global emissions, and to do so in the context of overcoming poverty, inequality and underdevelopment,” said Ramaphosa.
He also said that South Africa’s emissions will begin to decline from 2025, effectively shifting the country’s emissions decline to 10 years earlier. And, that SA plans to build capacity to generate more than 17 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2030.
The YCAP document will serve as a touch point for policymakers to understand youth perspectives, help with preparations for global negotiations such as the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), and help decide South Africa’s nationally determined contributions under the Paris Agreement (a legally binding international treaty on climate change).
It is just one part of a series of activities that the EU is supporting to provide young voices with a platform. Other activities include youth-led research that encourages young people to investigate the environmental issues that affect their lives, opportunities to participate in national and international climate events, and cultural exchanges with youth movements in other parts of the world.
All young people across the country, between the ages of 13 and 25, are invited to participate in YCAP consultations. Youth at SAIIA is hosting national meetings and have set up a YCAP hotline for contributions and queries via WhatsApp.
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