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Young people in Africa have developed an urban climate manifesto

Young people in Africa have developed a manifesto to encourage the development of climate smart cities that meet future needs.

In early 2021, WWF South Africa, in collaboration with WWF Uganda and ICLEI Africa, under the One Planet City Challenge, embarked on an ambitious journey to develop the Urban African Youth Climate Change Manifesto that could serve as a comprehensive list of demands that young people in Africa have of their city-makers in developing climate smart cities that our future needs.

As a “by the youth, for the youth” initiative, a core cohort of youth from African cities, among them Kampala in Uganda, Nyamata and Kigali in Rwanda, Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Lusaka in Zambia, Durban and Polokwane in South Africa, Gaborone in Botswana, Harare, Polokwane, Tamale and Kumasi in Ghana, and Rabat in Morocco, guided the development of the document from beginning to end.

The manifesto was developed over the course of three workshops. The first workshop included the youth cohort but was also open to a wider group of young people. This workshop focussed on identifying key areas of concern. Of the many areas that were identified, certain ones stood out, including electricity, urban transport, food, water, plastic, finance, governance, and planning.

These themes came to form the structure of the subsequent workshops, with a focus on four themes per workshop, and expert speakers coming in to capacitate the youth cohort on their respective fields. The cohort was then invited to engage these speakers and together develop a set of demands they have for their city makers under each theme.

As the final manifesto document points out: “Because Africa is recognised as the youngest continent – with 60% of the population under the age of 25 – we, the youth, believe it is important that our united voice is prioritised in the planning and development of African cities. We are, at the same time, those who stand to lose our future and those with the potential to elicit fundamental transformation, through our demographic dividend, through the unprecedented recognition of our collective voice, and through global ubuntu. As such, we present this manifesto on climate change in cities.”

Africa faces rapid urbanisation with concomitant climate challenges, one of the main reasons behind the urban youth initiative to develop a climate manifesto.

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