By Staff Writer
Three young Zimbabweans have been selected to attend a global youth climate summit to be held in Milan, Italy, on September 28-30.
The conference, dubbed “Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition Conference”, is one of the events leading to the 26th edition of Conference of the Parties (COP26), the supreme decision-making body of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
The youth summit was convened by the Government of Italy, the current holders of the COP26 presidency, in partnership with the United Kingdom.
Building on the success of the 2019 UN Youth Climate Summit, the event will provide young delegates an opportunity to put forward ideas and proposals on some of the most pressing issues on the climate agenda.
Pre-COP meetings provide a selected group of countries with an informal setting to discuss and exchange views on some key political aspects of the negotiations and offer political guidance for subsequent negotiations.
The main summit, COP26, will run from November 1 to 12 in Glasgow, Scotland. The three youth delegates — Nkosilathi Nyathi, Natalie Mangondo and Elizabeth Gulugulu — were yesterday bade farewell at a send-off event at the Italian Cultural Centre in Harare.
Their travel expenses will be covered by the Italian government, and are expected to travel on September 26.
They are excited to be representing their country at this grand occasion. Nyathi is of the opinion that “nothing for us, without us, is for us”, emphasising inclusion of young people at all levels.
Mangondo said, “As we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, we must ensure it is done in a manner that is sustainable, inclusive, and climate-resilient.
“This means balancing the three E’s that are at the core of my message in the lead up to the event; economy, equality, and ecology,” she said. “Economy relates to innovation and entrepreneurship in the climate space that drives growth, job creation and competitiveness in a manner that is climate-positive.
“Equality suggests that a solution in which women, young people, people living with disabilities, indigenous people and least developed countries are left behind is not a solution at all. Ecology suggests we draw inspiration beyond technology and create nature-based solutions that will allow us to restore ecosystems and biodiversity with the added advantage of positive health and societal externalities.”
Gulugulu said: “Meaningful youth engagement is not just inviting young people at high level meetings but it’s giving them space to add their inputs and allowing them to be part of the implementation process.
“We do not need more IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) reports to remind us of the climate catastrophes at hand. The impacts are already being felt, what we want is immediate climate action! It’s not a youth versus adult thing; because we are not competing, all efforts should complement each other. With strong partnerships indeed we can win the climate war.
“The Youth4Climate: Driving Ambition is not an event where ‘adults’ tell youths what needs to be done. We know exactly what needs to be done and young people will demand for more #ClimateActions as they lay out their aspirations in preparation for #COP26
“We are here today because of poor decisions that were made decades ago. We will not just watch history repeating itself again. Decision makers should be committed; we want robust climate change policies that are inclusive and implementable.”
Italian Environment minister Sergio Costa said of the Youth4Climate conference: “… We believe it is fundamental that the choices concerning tomorrow are shared, even expressed, by those who will have to live in tomorrow and will be responsible for the planet of tomorrow.”
During the send-off event yesterday, the medical director at Luisa Guidotti Hospital-All Souls Mission in Mutoko, Dr Massimo Migani, made a presentation of an environment-friendly waste recycling plant installed at the hospital using Italian technology by Italian company Newster.
About 400 young people from 190 countries are expected to attend the conference initially slated for November 2020, but was rescheduled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The main areas of engagement during the youth summit will be centred on four theme: youth driving ambition; sustainable recovery; non-state actors’ engagement; and climate-conscious society.
The participants to Youth4Climate summit were selected by a committee of the youth with support from the Office of the UN Secretary-General’s envoy on Youth (OSGEY) and the Official Children and Youth Constituency (YOUNGO) to UNFCCC. Gulugulu was the only African who was part of the selection team.