African Development Bank Launches $1 Billion Fund to Empower Youth-Led Climate Solutions
In a landmark move aimed at catalyzing climate action and nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit of Africa’s youth, the African Development Bank (AfDB) has unveiled a $1 billion fund for climate financing. This substantial injection of capital will breathe new life into YouthAdapt, a collaborative initiative between the AfDB and the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA). YouthAdapt serves as a platform for young African entrepreneurs and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises to channel their innovative ideas towards climate change adaptation and resilience projects across the continent.
YouthAdapt, at its core, is a call to action for Africa’s youthful demographic. It invites young minds to submit groundbreaking solutions and business proposals that hold the potential to drive climate change adaptation and bolster resilience across the continent. In an era defined by climate challenges, this initiative serves as a beacon of hope and opportunity.
The announcement of this $1 billion additional funding took place during a High-Level Intergenerational Dialogue themed “Africa Driving Climate Adaptation Solutions and Jobs.” This significant event unfolded at the Wangari Maathai Institute of Peace and Environment, located on the outskirts of Nairobi and funded by the African Development Bank.
AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina, a prominent figure in Africa’s development landscape, made the groundbreaking announcement. Adesina emphasized that African youth are not interested in receiving mere handouts but are hungry for substantial investments in their potential and ideas. He underscored the importance of this initiative by stating, “We have no option but to invest in our youths.”
Over the past two years, YouthAdapt has already made a tangible impact by providing over $1.5 million in funding to 33 young entrepreneurs hailing from 19 African countries. Some of these innovators have seen their profits soar by an impressive 200%. This is a testament to the untapped potential and creativity that young Africans possess.
Adesina expressed his unwavering belief in Africa’s youth, asserting that they are the driving force of the continent’s future. He firmly stated, “Failing to invest in the youth will hurt Africa; failure is not an option.”
Global Voices Join the Chorus:
The event witnessed the presence of global leaders, including Ban Ki-Moon, the 8th Secretary-General of the United Nations, and Graça Machel, Chair of the board of trustees of the Graça Machel Trust and the African Child Policy Forum. Their presence underlines the international significance of YouthAdapt and the urgency of climate adaptation.
Ban Ki-Moon encouraged young Africans to think beyond national boundaries and to hold their leaders accountable for their climate promises. He implored them to use their voting power to make climate adaptation and finance a top priority.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Youth Affairs, the Arts, and Sports, Ababu Namwamba, highlighted the Kenyan government’s commitment to climate action. He mentioned the ambitious plan to recruit a one-million-strong youth Green Army to support the planting of 15 billion trees within a decade. This initiative aims to significantly increase Kenya’s forest cover from 12% to 30%.
Namwamba also noted Kenya’s pioneering role in ratifying the Sports for Climate Action Initiative under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This initiative facilitates climate action in sports organizations, promoting collaboration and the sharing of best practices.
The Stark Choice: Adapt or Die:
Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Centre on Adaptation, issued a stark message: “Adapt or die.” Yet, he tempered this with a message of hope. He expressed confidence that with the right tools, financing, and a platform for the voiceless, Africa’s youth will be an unstoppable force in the battle against climate change.
The event also witnessed the presentation of the Youth4Adaptation Communiqué. This powerful document calls upon global leaders to engage and involve young people in decision-making processes related to climate adaptation and action. It also urges a doubling of financial commitments to adaptation by 2025, reflecting the aspirations of young people from 135 countries worldwide.
In a touching tribute to the late Professor Wangari Maathai, known for her environmental advocacy and Nobel laureate status, Adesina and other dignitaries planted trees on the grounds of the Wangari Maathai Institute. Professor Wangari Maathai’s legacy of environmental conservation and social justice continues to inspire and guide the fight against climate change.
The Launch of the $1 Billion YouthAdapt Fund:
The launch of the $1 billion YouthAdapt fund represents a pivotal moment for Africa and its youth. It signifies a commitment to harnessing the boundless creativity and potential of the continent’s young entrepreneurs to combat the pressing challenges posed by climate change. With visionary leaders, global support, and a steadfast belief in Africa’s youth, the continent stands poised to drive climate adaptation solutions and secure a more resilient future for all.
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