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Southern Africa Trust |

Youth Climate Advocacy

Civil Society Climate Change

Climate change is one of the most significant intergenerational equity challenges of our time. Young people – who currently represent over 50% of the global population – are the generation who will not only be most impacted by climate change, but who will also inherit the responsibility for addressing it. This key constituency, however, is often neglected in policy processes and the design of climate change response measures and initiatives. The question of youth agency is particularly acute in Africa, the region most vulnerable to climate impacts and also the region with the youngest population, with almost 60% of Africa’s population under the age of 25. In recent years, the voice of youth has become increasingly prominent in global responses to climate change injustice. Protest-oriented programmes, such as Fridays for Future, Earth Uprising and the Extinction Rebellion, have become part of broad social movements to enhance the voice of youth on climate change, address intergenerational climate justice and hold political leaders accountable for insufficient progress in addressing climate change.

Youth voices have also become more prominent in formal climate negotiations and in national and global climate strategy formulation and implementation, while youth climate councils, advocacy networks and platforms have expanded in prominence and number. Young people are establishing networks in schools, universities and communities, taking action at local, national and international levels, and using social media, newsletters and a range of innovative communication strategies to better coordinate action and shape climate responses. As this youth movement continues to grow, it is important to document emerging lessons, strategies and modalities of youth climate advocacy in Africa. Highlighting and sharing these lessons with policymakers, members of civil society and activists in the region can help to build an understanding of what intergenerational equity and meaningful participation look like in practice. It can also help inspire actors to adopt emerging good practice and ultimately support ever greater levels of effective youth climate advocacy. Such efforts can help to ensure that youth are recognised as powerful agents of change with a central role in achieving a climate resilient future.

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