Menu Close

Empower SA youth in global climate policy making

Add to my bookmarks
ClosePlease login

No account yet? Register

Share This Article:

Picture: Markus Spiske/Pexels/Taken September 20, 2019 – While climate change has a damaging effect on South Africa’s youth, the degree to which young people are meaningfully involved in the decision-making processes that define climate policy leaves much to be desired, the writer says.

By Dominic Naidoo

Climate change has become a defining challenge of our time, requiring collective action and global co-operation. As the effects of climate change continue to manifest, it is crucial for all nations, including South Africa, to actively participate in global climate policy making, implement climate action plans, and monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of these policies.

Climate change has a particularly damaging impact on South African youth, who are among the most vulnerable. However, issues remain on the degree to which young people are meaningfully involved in the decision-making processes which define climate policy.

While attempts have been made to include young people in these processes, it has yet to be seen if these techniques are adequate and whether young people’s perspectives are heard. These are a few possible solutions decision-makers could implement to empower South African youth to allow inclusive participation in both local and global climate policy and leadership.

Enhancing Education and Awareness

One of the first steps towards empowering South African youth in climate policy making is to enhance climate education and raise awareness about the challenges and opportunities associated with climate change. The national curriculum should incorporate climate change as a core component, integrating it across various subjects, such as science, geography, and social studies.

Awareness campaigns and workshops can be organised to educate young people about the science behind climate change, its impacts on local and global levels, and the potential solutions.

Promoting Youth Engagement Platforms

Establishing platforms for youth engagement in climate policy making is essential. South Africa can create dedicated youth councils or committees, specifically focused on climate change, to provide young people with opportunities to voice their concerns, propose solutions, and engage with policymakers.

These platforms should be inclusive, diverse, and accessible to ensure the representation of marginalised groups and promote a holistic approach to climate decision-making.

Strengthening Collaboration and Partnerships

Partnerships between government bodies, civil society organisations, academia, and the private sector are vital for empowering South African youth in climate policy making.

Collaborative initiatives can include internships, mentorship programmes, and research projects, allowing young people to work alongside experts and gain practical experience in climate policy development, implementation, and evaluation.

These partnerships should also focus on fostering innovation and entrepreneurship among the youth, providing them with the tools and resources needed to develop sustainable solutions.

Amplifying Youth Voices on Global Platforms

South Africa should actively support and encourage the participation of its youth in global climate change forums, such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) conferences.

By creating opportunities for young South Africans to attend and actively engage in these global platforms, their voices can be heard, and their perspectives can influence international climate policy decisions. This will not only empower the youth but also demonstrate South Africa’s commitment to intergenerational equity and sustainable development.

Establish Youth-led Monitoring & Evaluation Mechanisms

To ensure effective monitoring and evaluation of climate policies, South Africa should establish youth-led monitoring mechanisms. This can involve creating dedicated platforms or organisations that engage young people in assessing the implementation and impact of climate policies.

By involving the youth in these processes, their unique perspectives and insights can be harnessed, leading to more comprehensive evaluations and informed policy adjustments.

Providing Funding and Resources

Empowering South African youth in climate policy making requires adequate funding and resources. The government, in collaboration with international partners and the private sector, should establish funds dedicated to supporting youth-led climate initiatives, research, and innovation.

Scholarships, grants, and financial incentives should be made available to young people pursuing careers in climate-related fields, ensuring that they have the necessary resources to contribute meaningfully to climate policy development and implementation. The active participation of South African youth in global climate policy making, climate action, and policy monitoring and evaluation is essential for tackling the challenges of climate change.

By providing quality education, fostering youth engagement, promoting collaboration and partnerships, amplifying youth voices on global platforms, establishing youth-led monitoring mechanisms, and providing necessary funding and resources. While meaningful participation in South Africa may face hurdles, it is vital that one remains enthusiastic about the possibilities for change.

Youth may play critical roles in the climate policy process by filling relevant jobs, utilising their voices to demand their constitutionally required rights to public participation, and promoting a healthy environment, as stated in Section 24 of the constitution. By including young people as key stakeholders in all socio-economic, cultural, political, and environmental arenas, we can promote a more fair and equitable transition to a sustainable future.

Policymakers and professionals must realise the importance of young people’s involvement and engagement, and youth must take an active role in lobbying for their inclusion. With meaningful young participation, we can strive towards a brighter future for everybody.

Dominic Naidoo is an environment activist and writer

This article was written exclusively for The African. To republish, see terms and conditions.