Young people voice their climate change concerns at Cop28

National tree planting in Kenya is an example of engaging children in the issues

Isaac Molu, 11, plants a seedling during the nationwide tree planting public holiday in Nairobi, Kenya. AFP
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Young people were given a chance to have their say on climate change during Cop28, as children across Kenya began planting a million trees to improve air quality.

The Green Rising initiative brought together heads of state and leaders from the Unicef Generation Unlimited programme along with the Cop28 Youth Climate Champion, and UAE Minister of Community Development, Shamma Al Mazrui.

The partnership supports the global mobilisation of millions of young people at grassroots level to take action to help mitigate the effects of climate change.

Young people have an opportunity to be part of the change, and an opportunity to benefit from that change
Bob Moritz, Global Chairman of PwC

An example is in Kenya, where locals were given a holiday in November to plant 100 million trees as part of government plans to plant 15 billion over the next decade.

Young people are heavily involved in the project and it was cited as one way they can get involved with environmental issues.

Trees perform two important environmental objectives by absorbing carbon dioxide from the air, while also releasing oxygen.

Kenyan Mary Muthoni Morrison, a Cop28 International Youth Climate Delegate, said involving young people was an effective way to reach environmental goals.

“I have seen youth being present and being able to participate in what these plans are, and I believe involving them at an early age contributes to this democratic process,” she said.

“It feeds into the narrative that I can be a mother in the future, so by sharing the knowledge of climate change we can improve the world for future generations.

“I feel that providing a platform is necessary, but I also feel there should be regulations or a certain type of guidance that enables us to be open and willing to learn from the older generations.”

Green Rising commits to contributing to a just green transition in which the most vulnerable youth are empowered with the education, skills, and opportunities to be champions for the planet.

The initiative aims to support 10 million young people to take action by 2025.

Children integral to negotiations

Ghaya Saad Al Ahbabi, Unicef UAE Youth Advocate, said it was important young people were given a voice during Cop28.

“It is a really big opportunity to be given a chance to have these negotiations, even having a central point in choosing our future,” she said.

“The prosperity of this country is huge because of the leadership, and the way they have offered opportunities to the youth and acknowledged their abilities and influential power.

“Children need to be an integral part of negotiation, to share our perspective on the future.”

The event at the Youth and Children Pavilion showed the actions of children and young people to adapt to climate change in the Global South.

It also aimed to source funding for environmental projects for children and young people.

Bob Moritz, Global Chairman of PwC who hosted the discussion, said children should be given an opportunity to enact environmental change.

“We have an opportunity here for young people to stand up and voice their opinions and enable the change,” he said.

“Young people are not the victims, our job is to make them heroes.

“They have an opportunity to be part of the change, and an opportunity to benefit from that change.”

Updated: December 03, 2023, 5:06 AM