Statement presented by Juliet Oluoch, Research Associate at the Africa Research and Impact Network and member of the C40 Youth Hub.
We, the C40 Youth Hub climate ambassadors of Africa, stand united in our resolve to address the urgent climate crisis that threatens our planet and our future. Today, we present our vision for the 50 million good, green jobs commitment by C40 and mayors and emphasise its paramount importance for the African youth.
But before I start, I want to tell a short story of a first-hand, traumatising experience of the youth unemployment situation in Kenya and Africa.
The crisis at hand
The impact of the climate crisis is particularly devastating in Africa, where vulnerable communities bear the brunt of extreme weather events, droughts, floods, and agricultural challenges. As the inheritors of this planet, we are witnessing the profound consequences of inaction on climate change, which threaten to destabilise economies, exacerbate poverty, and undermine social cohesion. Addressing the climate crisis in cities is a matter of survival, and urgent action is necessary to secure a sustainable and equitable future for African Youth and the world. The latest IPCC report highlights the significance of extreme climate events, including heatwaves and intense rainfall for cities, with particular health risks from heat stress for low-income urban residents of Africa.
In African cities, climate risk is a consequence of both exposure to climate-related hazards and vulnerability of residents and urban systems. Vulnerability is driven by high poverty levels, limited municipal and national resources to invest in risk reduction activities, and inadequate, out-of-date and poorly maintained infrastructure. Climate impacts in one place can create risks to locations far away – for example, drought or extreme rainfall that affects agricultural productivity can have widespread impacts on food security. Prolonged droughts can result in water scarcity in cities and disrupt hydroelectric generation.
The significance of green jobs
Africa has the youngest population in the world. For the 400 million young people between the ages of 15 and 35, unemployment and lack of opportunities exacerbated by the global crisis threaten their present and future. The 50 million good, green jobs commitment proposes a transformative approach to combating climate breakdown by promoting green economic growth and creating employment. At its core, this initiative emphasises the creation of 50 million green jobs globally by the year 2030. We believe that this objective will strongly support cities’ Climate Action Plans. Good, green jobs encompass work that contributes to preserving or restoring the environment while providing decent wages and fair working conditions. These jobs range from renewable energy industries, sustainable agriculture, green infrastructure, circular economy practices, and much more.
1. Accelerating sustainable development
In Africa, the transition to green jobs holds immense potential to drive sustainable development. By investing in waste management, air quality, renewable energy projects, conservation efforts, and sustainable agriculture practices, and adaptation measures, we can promote economic growth while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting our ecosystems. This will ensure a more inclusive and resilient future for African communities, fostering a sense of hope and stability for young African generations.
2. Empowering youth through skills development
A key aspect of the initiative is the empowerment of young people. By fostering skills development and training in green technologies, sustainable practices, and environmental conservation, the 50 million jobs commitment can unleash the innovative potential of African youth. This will not only equip us with the tools to address climate challenges but also create a diverse and talented green workforce, strengthening our economies and shaping a green future.
3. Addressing climate injustice and inequality
The climate crisis disproportionately affects vulnerable communities, perpetuating climate injustice and deepening existing inequalities. The 50 million jobs commitment envisions addressing this by focusing on inclusive growth. By ensuring marginalised communities are involved in the green job sectors, we can bridge the socioeconomic gap and uplift those most affected by climate change. African youth are ready to take part in this just transition, ensuring that no one is left behind.
4. Bolstering youth leadership and engagement
Engaging youth in climate action is not just a choice; it is an imperative. African youth are a driving force behind climate movements, and the 50 million jobs commitment recognises this potential. By fostering youth leadership and amplifying our voices in decision-making processes, the initiative can harness the collective power of young people to drive transformative change.
5. Forging international cooperation and finance
The Africa Climate Summit and the roundtable of African mayors serve as a platform for global cooperation. The 50 million jobs commitment is an opportunity for African nations to collaborate with international partners, governments, and organisations to unlock support, resources and finance. Youth initiatives are lacking financial support. By working together, we can accelerate progress towards achieving green job targets and strengthening climate resilience across the continent, and supporting youth initiatives in cities.
We recognise that implementing the 50 million jobs commitment will pose challenges, such as financial constraints, bureaucratic hurdles, and resistance to change. We therefore call upon our governments, starting with our mayors, to allocate sufficient resources to finance this initiative. Mobilising public and private sector investments in green sectors will pave the way for sustainable growth and job creation.
Invest in education and training programmes to equip the youth with the necessary skills and knowledge for the emerging green economy. Strengthening educational institutions and vocational training centres will ensure a competent and adaptive workforce.
Dear African Mayors, Leaders, and fellow Youth Climate Activists, the 50 million jobs commitment is not just an opportunity for our continent but a moral imperative. It is an opportunity to safeguard our environment, uplift our communities, and empower the youth to shape a sustainable and prosperous Africa. We, the African youth, pledge our unwavering commitment to support this initiative and collaborate with you in making it a reality. Together, let us be the change we wish to see in the world. Together, let us usher in a future where Africa leads the way in sustainable development, innovation, and climate action.
The C40 Youth Hub, which launched in June 2023, connects more than 100 young people from around the world to exchange knowledge about urban climate solutions, empowering them to advance inclusive climate action where they live.