Young people, who are among those most at risk to the impacts of climate change, are not accessing the funds they need to tackle the challenges posed by global warming, according to a report published yesterday.
The joint report by the Commonwealth Secretariat and YOUNGO, the children and youth constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), analysed 100 climate finance initiatives targeted at young people.
While it shows an increase in youth-focused climate finance, funds are mainly disbursed in small amounts, hindering large-scale youth-led climate action. In addition, the audit information provided by funders lacked full transparency, especially about beneficiaries and what projects were funded.
In response, the report calls for a fit-for-purpose approach to deploying climate finance for youth-led actions to remove existing barriers and ensure young people receive a fair share of support.
The proposed solutions include targeted reporting, a streamlined process for accessing funds with a focus on clear eligibility criteria, increased private sector support and new innovative financing sources.
Climate finance, a core part of the Paris Agreement, is provided to help developing countries cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The report was launched at a side event, ‘Empowering Youth Leadership: Experiences from the Commonwealth in Access to Climate Finance, Capacity Building and Technology’ – hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat in partnership with the governments of Fiji and Zambia on 9 December 2023 during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28).
Speaking at the event, the Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland KC, said:
“Young people, who make up 60 per cent of Commonwealth citizens, are on the frontline of the climate crisis, living mostly in areas prone to extreme weather events.
“As a result, many are facing job losses, displacement, health issues and educational setbacks. In the face of adversity, the resilience of young people shines through as they harness their drive and talent to lead on powerful climate solutions.”
She added: “This report reveals the dire need to scale up financial support for young people and prevent them from being stuck in the vicious cycle of chasing funds. We must work together with young people to address the barriers they face in accessing climate finance and support them in scaling contributions to meeting climate targets. This is essential to our belief that youth-led action is integral to our pursuit for a sustainable future for all.”
During the event, participants shared their experiences on accessing climate finance, upskilling and leveraging technology to empower youth-led efforts in tackling the challenges posed by climate change, while examining ways to maximise existing opportunities
Collins Nzovu, Zambia’s Minister of Green Economy and Environment, said: “The future belongs to the children, and we should do everything possible to ensure we leave a liveable climate for them. We realise we need to pass the baton of leadership to the youth. We are increasing our support to the youth to take leadership which demonstrates our unwavering support for the Commonwealth Year of the Youth.”
The minister urged youth to use their energy, presence, connections and innovation to drive the change needed to save the planet.
In his remarks, Naipote Tako Katonitabua, Fiji’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, said: “The world is facing unprecedented impacts of climate change the global stocktake has shown us how far behind we are in our climate ambitions.”
“We need dramatic actions to benefit our climate and we need them now,” he added. “Youth inclusion at all levels in climate action including at political level is necessary to ensure the sustainability of our efforts.”
Sheen Tyagi, Research Director at YOUNGO’s Finance and Markets Working Group, said: “The seeds of environmental resilience are sown in the passion and innovation of youth. Investing in youth-led climate projects is not just an investment in the future; it’s a commitment to safeguarding our planet.”
She continued: “Climate finance directed towards our projects is the imperative bridge between aspirations and actionable change. The currency of change lies in climate finance for the youth, and to ensure a sustainable tomorrow, we need the unwavering support of governments, institutions, the private sector, communities, and every individual.”
During the event, Dr Ruth Kattumuri, Senior Director at the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Economic Youth and Sustainable Development, announced this year’s winners of the Commonwealth Sustainable Energy Transition Award, which were:
‘Tragedy to Triumph: Biogas in Daria Nagar’ by Areebah Armin Ahsan
‘Mud-coated Walls and Sandy Dunes’ by Sarah Shahbaz Khan
‘Solar Concentrator for Sustainable Cooking Energy’ by Michael Okao, Darius Ogwang and Joshua Elem
‘EcoPower Adventure: Empowering Communities Through Interactive Learning’ by Michael Chiangi Gbagir
The ‘Availability of Climate Finance for Youth’ report will inform the Commonwealth Secretariat’s ongoing work, especially its Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, which has supported small and vulnerable countries to access about $322 million of climate finance for projects to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
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