Youth express priorities on climate change
National Youth Consultative Forum on Climate Change enables youth to express their priorities
On 4 February 2021, over 80 young Malawians, aged between 18 and 35 and committed to climate change issues, joined “The Road to COP26 - National Youth Consultative Forum on Climate Change”.
The outcomes are summarised in the young people's final resolution document, which is intended to help shape Malawi's national climate plan, called the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), together with its National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and the development of the Malawi position for the forthcoming global climate conference, COP26.
The event was co-hosted by the British High Commission Lilongwe, National Youth Network on Climate Change, Centre for Environmental Advocacy and Policy, Association of Environmental Journalists and the FCDO-funded Building Resilience and Adapting to Climate Change programme.
Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources, Nancy Tembo, opened the event by reaffirming the critical role of youth in addressing climate change in Malawi.
Minister Tembo noted that the outcomes of the discussion should, indeed, feed into Malawi’s Position Paper for the forthcoming COP26. She committed to continue to support youth initiatives that are aimed at promoting environmental rehabilitation, landscape restoration, climate resilience and overall environmental sustainability.
Although the primary motivation for holding the event virtually was the coronavirus pandemic, it did have the advantage of allowing participants to log in from 18 of Malawi’s 28 districts.
The importance of including a wide range of voices to accelerate climate action was reiterated UK High Commissioner to Malawi, David Beer, in outlining his own country’s commitment in its role holding the presidency of COP26 and the G7.
Calls from Mr Beer and Coordinator of the National Youth Network on Climate Change, Mr Dominic Nyasulu, for participants to add their voices were heeded through a number of topical breakout group discussions on various aspects of climate mitigation and adaptation.
Key emerging priorities had common themes. First, it will be critical to adopt appropriate technologies across a range of sectors, from energy to agriculture to forestry, with particular consideration for accessibility across the diversity of the Malawian population. Second, youth can "be the change" when empowered and armed with capacity - and this can help address challenges with policy implementation.
When reporting priorities from his group participant Chifundo Zingunde, from the Malawi Institute of Journalism Environmental Club, summarised the sentiment well in saying “advocacy without action is a dead end”.
Priorities identified by the participants will be consolidated to form a resolution that will be submitted on their behalf to the Environmental Affairs Department for use in the finalisation of the National Determined Contributions, National Adaptation Plan, and in developing the national position for COP26.