Climate change: Environmentalist urges COP26 president to meaningfully engage young people

In preparation for the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) which will hold in United Kingdom, the COP26 President-Designate, Alok Sharma, has completed a two-day visit to Nigeria to discuss how the UK can work with Nigeria to address climate change challenges.

During his visit to Nigeria, Mr Sharma met with the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, the Honourable Minister of Environment, Dr Mohammad Mahmood Abubakar and the Honourable Minister of Environment for State, Sharon Ikeazor, in Abuja, Nigeria.

The British High Commissioner to Nigeria held a reception in honour of the COP26 President, which brought together representative of government at various levels, the diplomatic community, civil society organisations and youth groups.

Making a presentation at the reception, environmentalist and youth advocate, ‘Seyifunmi Adebote urged the COP26 Presidency led by Alok Sharma, to engage young people meaningfully in efforts to mobilize countries towards addressing climate change challenges. Adebote said COP26 presented many countries with the opportunity to re-evaluate how young people are being engaged in climate negotiations.

“From your visits to Ethiopia, Gabon, Egypt and now Nigeria, it is clear that you consider young people to be important contributors and a germane component towards delivering on the daunting task of hosting COP26. However, the bigger question is: How meaningful are these engagements with young people? What contributions do young people make towards realizing policy outcomes?” Adebote asked.

Emphasizing why young people should be meaningfully engaged, Adebote explained that: “Young people bring dynamic climate responses and innovation. They help track the efforts of the government, industries and businesses; ultimately, they monitor and support the process ensuring the intended results are achieved.

“It is not about the number of young people that travel to Glasgow by November but the tangible ideas that young people can incorporate into the countries negotiation framework. Young Nigerians cannot be bystanders in the global climate conversation. We must contribute actively to the process.”

He made references to a recent Climate Innovation Hub which brought together over 1000 youth-led solutions designed and refined to address climate change in Nigeria. He also explained how DEAN Initiative and World Largest Lessons through her “Road to COP26” project will be involving one million Nigerian school children in climate conversation by engaging 2,000 volunteers in 4,000 identified schools.

Sharma’s visit to Nigeria comes after his visit to Ethiopia, Gabon and Egypt.

About 400 young people, aged 18 to 29 are expected to attend the Pre-COP26 meeting in Milan from September 30 to October 2, 2021, before the COP26 in Glasgow which will be hosted by the United Kingdom from November 1 to 12, 2021.

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