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What is COP-26 and why is it important for women and youth to have a voice in climate change mitigation?

What is COP?

For nearly three decades the UN has been bringing together almost every country on earth for global climate summits – called COPs – which stands for ‘Conference of the Parties’. In that time climate change has gone from being a fringe issue to a global priority. This year will be the 26th annual summit, giving it the name COP26. With the UK as President, COP26 takes place in Glasgow.

COP21 took place in Paris in 2015. For the first time ever, something momentous happened: every country agreed to work together to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees and aim for 1.5 degrees, to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate and to make money available to deliver on these aims. The Paris Agreement was born. The commitment to aim for 1.5 degrees is important because every fraction of a degree of warming will result in many more lives lost and livelihoods damaged. Under the Paris Agreement, countries committed to bring forward national plans setting out how much they would reduce their emissions – known as Nationally Determined Contributions, or ‘NDCs’. They agreed that every five years they would come back with an updated plan that would reflect their highest possible ambition at that time - UN Climate change conference 2021

 

RES4Africa in conjunction with AVSI organised two preCOP26 events where young people from all over the world had an opportunity to provide policy recommendations to be submitted to high level individuals representing various organizations and governments at the COP26 event later in the year at the United Kingdom.

 

Who is RES4Africa and AVSI?

RES4Africa Foundation (Renewable Energy Solutions for Africa) envisions the sustainable transformation of Africa’s electricity systems to ensure reliable and affordable electricity access for all, enabling the continent to achieve its full, resilient, inclusive and sustainable development. The Foundation’s mission is to create favorable conditions for scaling up investments in clean energy technologies to accelerate the continent’s just energy transition and transformation.

AVSI, a non-profit organization founded in 1972, implements development and humanitarian aid projects in 38 countries, including Italy. Their vision is to work for a world where the person is the protagonist of his or her own integral development and that of his or her community, even in crisis and emergency contexts. In 2020, AVSI helped almost 5 million people in need, including 21,412 children through distance support program. AVSI implements cooperation projects in various sectors with a preferential focus on education, meaning that the person is accompanied towards self-discovery and recognition that the other person is a resource. Each project is conceived as an instrument to promote this awareness in everyone involved, has in itself a need for communicating and sharing, and creates an impact capable of generating a positive change.

 

What’s the tea on the preCOP26 event?

The event aimed to tackle four thematic areas and the young experts from around the world were invited as panelists to discuss these issues and provide a policy recommendation document that will be forwarded to a high-level committee for integration :

1.     Social Inclusion and the role of women and youth for just energy transition and prevention of climate change. 

2.     A holistic and inclusive energy transition – A focus on the socio-economic and environmental impact 

3.     The role of Young Innovators in driving the Just energy transition to fight climate change. 

4.     The role of sustainable policies in climate change adaptation, innovation and mitigation

 

What is the role of women and youth for a just energy transition and climate change mitigation?

I was privileged to be part of these discussions amongst other incredible young global leaders and gave my contribution to policy improvements surrounding a just energy transition, and the role of women and youth in the prevention of climate change. Our panel was  moderated by Cherop Soy -SDG7 Youth Constituency and the panellists were: Eileen Phoebe Lara - MGA Awardee 2020, Diana Bulf - Grand Challenge Scholars Alumni, Victoria Ibrahim - EM-ONE Energy Solutions, Yemissirach Sisay Tebeje - Ethiopian Women in Energy, Tracy Kimathi- TreeSea/AWEEF Network, Asmaa Idrisu -Inceptima LLC, ARE Member and yours truly, Carol Ofafa - Open Africa Power Alumni. The discussion was informative and fun and one memorable quote from one of the panelists was:


 “ Why can’t we make policy sexy? Advertise new policy as we would a new i-phone to spike interest and accountability in implementation and also to provide the necessary sensitization?”


...and I couldn’t agree more! Thing is, sensitization on climate change has often been done with an ad hoc approach leaving the recipients disinterested. Constant engagement using methods that can pass that message across inn a more relatable way could be the missing link. The use of renewable energy to mitigate the impacts of climate change can only be put into effect in a community through social inclusion. Education on climate change and sustainability and involving stakeholders on the front lines through community wide social activities can go a long way in the effort to mitigate climate change impact. The impacts of climate change need to be socialized, not only on a community level but also on a political and corporate level. Policy makers should mandate training and climate change awareness campaigns in areas where women lack technical skills and still use Bad fuels (kerosene etc.) to prepare food and perform other domestic activities. The climate change awareness  will inform the women and youths on the impacts of using bad sources of fuel on their health and environment as well as engage the community to include women in the economic, political, and social life of the community. The training on renewable energy sources will encourage energy transition, provide opportunities for income for those women, and encourage them to promote energy transition in their communities. These are some of the recommendations that were proposed by the panel.

 

The high-level engagement is organized for 1st October 2021. Please join Tracy and I as we submit these policy recommendations to global leaders. The virtual event is open to everyone and you can register here 👉🏽 : https://bit.ly/3Am1KJU


Image courtesy of : Global Citizen

 

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