Representing African Youth; COP21

Climate change poses a huge threat to humanity as well as food security in the world. I was privileged to attend the 21st Conference of Parties on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC-COP21) in Paris as a youth representing the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change under the Global Green Grants Fund. Most importantly I was also representing the voice of young people who are the ones to face the challenges.

Alpha COP21 - 3As a young person, I felt that COP 21 was a step in the right direction, but still not enough to address the giant in the room. Putting the Paris agreement into perspective, it is for me one of the most promising documents with nearly 200 countries signing and legally binding themselves to contribute to addressing the problems caused by climate change. Nevertheless, countries having negotiated for the last 21 years, it is still evident that commitment is lacking across the board and mostly from the developed nations, to commit to addressing the challenge at hand. Acting within the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities and capabilities, the developed nations have an obligation to contribute more to addressing climate change, but in my view, this has and is still lacking. This poses a big threat to the efforts to addressing the challenges that climate change portends. Developing nations for example, face an uphill task in securing the badly needed climate finance, which is slow in coming.

Therefore, as we move forward I believe that we need to look at climate change as a challenge facing humanity before the economic and political aspects of it. World leaders seem more concerned about the economic implications to their countries and whether or not they can win elections at home, if they support the war against climate change and this has been one of the critical barrier to addressing the fight. Leaders need to understand that this is indeed an issue touching the lives of human kind, with the poor being hardest hit, and act with urgency.

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Finally for me the most critical question is: what happens after Paris? The only way we can really make climate change negotiations to make sense is by putting the global policies into practice at the local level. This will have an impact on my grandmother in the village as well as other people at the local level. I am hopeful that if we join hands and put aside differences and selfish interests, then we can address the issue of climate change.


Alphaxard Gitau

Article by:

Alphaxard Gitau

Core Team Member, CYNESA Kenya.


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