What I learned from the Africa Climate Summit and the UN General Assembly, and what it means for Tanzania.
24 November 2023
By Madina Kimaro, UNICEF Youth Advocate for Climate Action.
I want to take you on a journey through my experiences at the African Climate Summit and the UN General Assembly's Youth Mobilization Lab, which brought young people from around the world like me to build our capacity on how we can effectively advocate and engage decision-makers to act on climate change. These events have deepened my understanding of climate change and fuelled my determination to make a difference in Tanzania and beyond.
Part one: African Climate Summit - A regional perspective
Based on the experience I gained throughout my adolescence running different climate micro-projects in my community, I was selected as UNICEF Tanzania’s Youth Advocate for Climate Action. As part of my role as Youth Advocate. So, I was sent to the African Climate Summit hosted by the Government of Kenya and the African Union to do just that representing young people’s voices on climate issues. This regional event was a critical prelude to COP28 and emphasized Africa's commitment to climate resilience.
Amplifying youth voices:
At the summit, my role was clear: amplify the voices of children and youth in response to climate change. I advocated for equipping children and youth with the tools for climate adaptation and mitigation, including climate education, green skills development, and meaningful participation. Additionally, I spoke up about prioritizing climate financing for our generation and understanding that this investment is key to preventing the acceleration of the climate crisis.
Learning opportunities: During the Africa Youth Climate Assembly, I learnt from the report ‘Time to Act: African Children in the Climate Change Spotlight,’ launched by UNICEF. It highlighted the unique exposure and vulnerability of African children to climate change. I also shared my insights as a panellist in several side events, organized by UNICEF and UNEP, with UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors, technical specialists and other youth advocates.
Networking opportunity: Meeting young individuals from diverse backgrounds expanded my understanding of the global climate crisis. I acquired crucial skills such as negotiation and critical thinking and had the privilege of being interviewed by various media outlets including Voice of Sahel Youth in Mali and Green Warriors TV in Kenya!
Source of inspiration: Witnessing thousands of youth activists from around Africa gathered at the summit ignited a passionate drive within me to continue this important work.
Part 2: UN General Assembly's Youth Mobilization Lab - A global perspective
Next, I ventured to the UN General Assembly's Youth Mobilization Lab, a UNICEF platform for global youth advocates from 15 countries. This was an incredible space for personal and professional growth.
Empowering youth globally:
The Youth Mobilization Lab was more than just a meeting; it was an incubator of ideas, a forum for networking, and a catalyst for growth. It was so cool to have a week-long experience with fellow advocates where we had numerous learning opportunities, from advocacy workshops to media training, emphasizing practical tools for change. Truly an awesome experience!
each advocate shared their unique journey and insights with each other, showcasing the power of collective knowledge. We stressed the importance of involving children and youth in climate negotiations - because the Earth belongs to us too!
Visiting the United Nations exposed me to pressing global issues. I highlighted the need for collaboration between young people and leaders. Partnerships are essential for a resilient and sustainable world. Together, we're unstoppable!
Turning inspiration into Action for Tanzania
As I reflect on my remarkable journey, I recognize that the energy, creativity, and passion of young advocates are formidable forces. Climate change is a crisis of the present, and the insights and experiences gained at these events are a call to action.
I call on everyone, everywhere, to recognize the urgency of the challenges we face. Let's engage with our communities, our leaders, and our world. Let's push for climate justice, sustainable practices, and the inclusion of youth in decision-making processes. Together, we can create a fairer future for Tanzania and the world.
Remember, our voices are powerful tools that can shape a green and sustainable world. Let's join hands and make it happen!