President of African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina and the President of Kenya, William Ruto, have backed the demand of African youths for greater involvement in setting national and international climate policies, insisting that African youths are the biggest asset to the African continent and the global population.
Both leaders made the declaration at the recently concluded Africa Youth Climate Assembly, which held in Nairobi, Kanya, where issues of accelerated establishment of a Global Green Bank and a New Global Financial Pact, were discussed.
According to a statement released by APO Group, on behalf of African Development Bank (AfDB), the discussions were aimed at prioritising young people and their interests in climate financing, at a time when hundreds of young people from across Africa are demanding a significant role in decision making for climate action.
Delegates of youth leaders, entrepreneurs and policymakers presented the Africa Youth Climate Assembly Declaration to Adesina and Ruto, at the Africa Youth Climate Assembly in Kenya.
The delegates also called for the establishment of a UN Youth office to be based in Africa, the continent with the largest youth population in Africa.
In response to the Declaration, President Ruto and the Bank Chief recognised Africa’s youth as the biggest asset for Africa and the whole world, praising their dynamism and innovation. Ruto and Adesina backed their demand for greater involvement in setting national and international climate policies. The two leaders responded to questions from youths in a two-hour session moderated by African Youth Climate Assembly Lead Coordinator, Elizabeth Watuthi on a wide range of issues including youth access to finance, Africa’s energy transition, the plight of millions displaced owing to the impacts of climate change and mobilisation of resources for sustainable development.
President Ruto emphasised the importance of investing in youth and highlighted Africa’s agricultural potential due to its vast uncultivated lands (65 per cent of the world’s total), which he said could foster job creation and boost wealth.
Ruto highlighted his government’s initiative to establish smart cities to tackle unsustainable settlements and cut pollution in a bid to foster environmentally sustainable development. One way of investing in young people is by providing quality education and skills to help them tackle future challenges, Ruto said. He explained that his government had committed the largest budget in the country’s history to education – 630 billion KES ($433 million), representing over 27 per cent of the total annual budget. Adesina who had similar sentiments, underscoring the critical nature of youth investment in fostering growth and stability on the continent, said: “The biggest risk in this continent is not investing in the youth. The youth need investment, not empowerment. The African Development Bank has set up youth strategy to provide 25 million jobs. So far, we have developed 15 million jobs: ten million in the formal sector and five million in the informal sector.”
He said the African Development Bank had also invested $4 million to support the ideas of young people under the YouthADAPT programme, a partnership with the Global Center on Adaptation (GCA). As part of its partnership with GCA, the Bank is also supporting the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Programme which, according to Adesina, is the largest of such programmes in the world, to mobilise $25 billion to scale adaptation actions across Africa.