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Young people call on world leaders to “adapt for our future”

Football star Arjen Robben and h.r.h princess Abze Djigma of burkino faso join young people in calling for accelerated climate adaptation

Press release - Groningen, 22nd January 2021 – Young people from more than 115 countries, co-ordinated by the GCA Youth Adaptation Network, today presented a call to action “Adapt for our Future” to 8th Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon during a virtual launch event hosted by Climate Adaptation Groningen (the event that can be followed online here, at 2.15-3.15 PM CET).

Ban Ki-moon, who is also Chair of the Global Center on Adaptation, will present the youth declaration to world leaders attending the Climate Adaptation Summit, hosted by the Netherlands, on Monday 25th January 2021.

The “Adapt for our Future” call to action, drafted following consultations with youth groups around the world, urges global leaders to declare a Decade of Action “to prepare younger generations to transition towards green and climate resilient development”. It calls upon “governments and all stakeholders to make the most of the unprecedented opportunity, post Covid-19, to implement the Global Youth Call to Action on Adaptation in addition to their mitigation efforts and Paris Agreement targets.”

Speaking at the launch event, Ban Ki-moon, 8th Secretary General of the United Nations and Chair of Global Center on Adaptation said: “You are the first generation which has never known a world without global warming. It is the moral duty of my generation to give you the space, and the means to succeed where we have failed. Your ambition, dynamism, and determination, when coupled with opportunities and financial support, will be a huge boost towards building a more resilient future.”

Joshua Amponsem, GCA Youth Fellow and Founder of Green Africa Youth Organization, who handed the Call to Action to the Secretary-General said: “We are the least responsible for our climate emergency and yet we will suffer the most from it. We must be involved in adaptation, not just because our future depends on it, but also because we are innovators. We need a seat at the table, the training, the jobs and the financial support to ensure that we can adapt our world for our future.”

The call to action is part of a wider initiative from GCA to make young people central to driving the adaptation agenda and implementation worldwide:

  • GCA is launching this year our Adaptation Solution Challenge and Incubator Fund, in partnership with the African Development Bank. Promoting innovation and climate resilient jobs for young people. And building the entrepreneurial capacity of 1000 youth businesses across Africa by facilitating access to funding, training and mentorship to youth-led and especially women-led businesses.  

  • GCA has partnered with the University of Groningen on its MOOC on Climate Adaptation Governance. This and other free educational resources will promote provide invaluable knowledge and skills to at least one million young people in the year ahead. 

  • Recognizing the importance of gender as part of adaptation, GCA is designing a pioneering program for Young Women Leadership on Adaptation. Training inspiring, young women in leadership positions from the Global South to be agents of transformative climate adaptation action in their communities. 

  • Scaling and extending our approach, and using the power of our Youth Adaptation Network, by developing a Train the Trainer Program specially designed to empower young people to train their peers on how to raise awareness of climate change and adaptation solutions. In doing so, reaching some of the most vulnerable, last-mile communities. 

  • A dedicated training program so that young people are directly engaged in the design and implementation of National Adaptation Plans. Starting with policy dialogues in 10 countries in Africa before expanding further, and placing youth engagement as a critical condition for adaptation. 

  • GCA’s Young Leaders program is a six-month, skills development initiative divided between GCA offices and those of 15 global partner companies to build the capacity for the next generation of climate professionals.  

Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of Global Center on Adaptation, underlined the importance of partnering youth involvement with the private sector to develop solutions to our climate crisis: “GCA is proud to be partnering with leading companies from around the world as part of our Youth Leadership Program. Bringing innovative new ideas to life and building expertise in adaptation is essential to empower young people to lead the global conversation on adaptation and resilience. Our partners are among the world’s leading companies at the forefront of the private sector’s efforts to integrate sustainability and resilience into their operations.”

During the launch event, professional football player Arjen Robben and H.R.H. Princess Abze Djigma from Burkino Faso joined the young people as part of an intergenerational dialogue and added their support to the voices of young people working to accelerate climate adaptation. Commenting Arjen Robben said: “In many parts of the world climate change is already affecting young people’s fitness, ability to exercise and their right to live a normal and healthy life. I am so pleased young people are speaking up about this important issue and I will work hard to ensure your voices are heard and action is taken.”

Download Report Global Youth Call to Action