Today, we would like to join the rest of the world to specially celebrate the role that young women and men play as essential partners in change. The International Youth Day provides an opportunity to raise awareness of the challenges and problems facing the world’s youth and how young people can be empowered to provide solutions to these challenges.
This year’s theme, ‘Green Skills for Youth: Towards A Sustainable World’ is a critical and timely one as the world responds to the global climate crisis and the need to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by making the transition to an environmentally sustainable and climate-friendly future. The success of this transition to a greener world will depend on the development of green skills.
While green skills are relevant for people of all ages, they hold a higher importance for younger people, who can contribute to the green transition for a longer period of time. This highlights the critical importance of investing in the education of young people and building their capacity as key stakeholders in this green transition. Without access to high-quality education, young people will lack the necessary skills and knowledge to enable the transition.
This is especially important in Sub-Saharan Africa where 98 million children and youth between the ages of six and 18 are out of schools. This does not include the tens of millions of young people who are unable to access higher education due to poverty, distance, gender, disability and other factors.
Without a well-educated youth population that has the necessary skills and knowledge, Africa’s green transition would be hampered, and its ability to build climate resilience would be severely impacted.
It is also important that as part of Africa’s transition to a greener future, young people are part of governance as decision-makers, especially as they will be the ones to shape that future. This is why we remain committed to supporting young people running for elected offices, and also young people who have been elected into office.
The voices of young people are also very important in governance and the decision-making processes across the continent as it pertains to the future. This is our inspiration for initiatives that aim at building the capacity of young civic activists, and community organizers to be more effective at executing advocacy campaigns that will transform their communities.
As we celebrate this year’s International Youth Day, let us remember that a transition to a greener future for Africa would only be possible if young people on the continent are empowered with the skills and knowledge to live in, develop and support a sustainable and resource-efficient society. Importantly as well, it will require that young people contribute to the governance of their communities and nations as they become more environmentally sustainable and climate friendly.
We will continue to work towards ensuring that the proportion of young people in governance and political participation increase, so that these young men and women have seats at the decision-making table where they are able to contribute to shaping their futures.
Happy International Youth Day