The African Development Bank (AfDB) has unveiled a $1 billion fund aimed at supercharging climate financing for youth-driven businesses across Africa. This new initiative, dubbed YouthAdapt, is set to transform the continent’s fight against climate change.
AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina, made the momentous announcement during a High-Level Intergenerational Dialogue held at the Wangari Maathai Institute of Peace and Environment on the outskirts of Nairobi.
Surrounded by dignitaries including Ban Ki Moon, Graça Machel, and Kenyan Cabinet Secretary Ababu Namwamba, Adesina emphasized the urgency of investing in Africa’s youth.
“African youths don’t want little things being doled out to them. We have no option but to invest in our youths,” Adesina stated emphatically.
The YouthAdapt initiative, a partnership between AfDB and the Global Centre on Adaptation, invites young entrepreneurs and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across the continent to submit innovative solutions and business ideas that tackle climate change adaptation and resilience.
Over the past two years, YouthAdapt has already provided over $1.5 million to 33 young entrepreneurs across 19 African countries, resulting in some businesses doubling their profits.
“Africa’s youth are the present. It is their views and perspectives that are going to change the continent. Failing to invest in the youth will hurt Africa; failure is not an option,” Adesina reiterated.
Ban Ki Moon, the 8th Secretary General of the UN, urged young Africans to transcend national boundaries and hold their leaders accountable for climate action promises. “Challenge your leaders today. Use your voting power to ensure climate adaptation and finance are a priority,” he urged.
Ababu Namwamba, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Youth Affairs, the Arts, and Sports, highlighted the Kenyan government’s ambitious plan to recruit a one million strong “Green Army” of Climate Action Warriors. Their mission? To support President William Ruto’s plan to plant 15 billion trees in a decade, significantly increasing the country’s forest cover.
Namwamba also pointed out Kenya’s groundbreaking move as the first country to ratify the Sports for Climate Action Initiative under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. This initiative will enable sports organizations to pursue climate action in a consistent and mutually supportive fashion.
Patrick Verkooijen, CEO of the Global Centre on Adaptation, painted a stark choice for Africa, saying, “Adapt or die.” However, he emphasized that the need for adaptation also presents an opportunity. “We know that if we provide you with the right tools, the right finance, and give voice to the voiceless, you will be unstoppable.”
The event concluded with the presentation of the Youth4Adaptation Communiqué, urging global leaders to involve the youth in decision-making on climate adaptation and action. It also called for a doubling of climate adaptation finance by 2025.
In a symbolic gesture, Adesina and other dignitaries planted trees on the grounds of the Wangari Maathai Institute, honoring the legacy of the late environmentalist and Nobel laureate, Prof. Wangari Maathai.
Her community-based approach to environmental conservation, especially empowering young people and women to plant trees, continues to inspire generations.
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