Nairobi, 6 September 2019 – The urgency of climate action has never been clearer. Every half degree of global warming matters. Cities are one of the cornerstones in this quest to limit global warming to 1.5°C, a critical threshold to avoid the future we don't want.
As a means of reducing their carbon foot print, a group of youth activists working on climate change and peacebuilding participated in the first Oslo Pax Summit virtually on September 4-5 in Oslo Norway. The summit, which was organized by the Nobel Peace Centre, brought together young leaders activists, politicians, scientists, Nobel Prize laureates, and concluded with a set of recommendations which will be presented to the Secretary General during the UN Climate Change Summit later this month.
Participants discussed ways to reduce the negative effects of climate change on peace and security in the world, while some speakers referred to climate change as a “threat multiplier” interacting with multiple pressures: social conflict, inequalities, large-scale migration, and competition for resources, increasing the likelihood of instability or violent conflict. “Climate change will directly affect the availability, quality, and access to water, food and ecosystem services in cities, as well as the competition for land, unsustainable land use patterns, energy and infrastructure, leading to increased fragmentation of the rich and poor and stretching the capacities of societies and governments. The most vulnerable groups, including children, women, youth, and seniors, the poor, refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), and indigenous populations, will be hit the hardest and will take the longest to recover”, said Ms. Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat.
During his opening remarks Isaac Muasa – chairman of the Mathare Environmental One Stop Conservation Group discussed the importance of involving young people in decision making processes and stressed that “we must always ask ourselves WHO’s in the Room, WHO’s around the room and WHO’s missing from the room? Youth must be in the room to negotiate, around the table to influence negotiations, and supported outside the room to build alliances to collaborate with other stakeholders and partners.”
This sentiment was echoed by one of the keynote speakers Wanjira Mathai, Chair of the Wangari Maathai Foundation, who said “this is the beginning of a movement which will allow for the voices of Youth to be amplified and heard at the UN Climate Summit in September.” She went on to say that “there is probably no better time than listening to the voices of Youth today, and to genuinely bring them into the decision rooms and tables because it is their time: in Kenya, 80% of the Population is under 35, which reflects most countries in Africa. Together, Youth is a force, and I hope together, Youth will unleash that force.”
In her concluding remarks the Executive Director of the Noble Peace Centre said “The worldwide wave of climate strikes has shown that it is the younger generation who are succeeding in putting the climate on the global agenda. It is important that young people are involved in both discussions about and the formulation of the policies that will shape the future,”
At the end of the two-day summit, Sofie Nordvik, was chosen among her peers to carry forward the recommendations developed to the UN Climate Change Summit on the 23rd of September 2019.
Sharmaarke Abdullahi, UN-Habitat