Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) and United Youth Initiative Africa (UYIA) host Ghana’s first Local Conference of Youth popularly known as LCOY. The conference took place on Thursday, September 23rd, 2021 at the British Council, Accra, with 50 participants from across the country and over 350 virtual participants joining online from all digital media platforms. The MC for the conference was the brilliant Youth Advocate and Communications Lead for LCOY Ghana, Miss Nadia Owusu.
Local Conference of Youth (LCOY), is a localized version of the global Conference of Youth (COY) both organized by the official Youth Constituency to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) known as YOUNGO. LCOY was designed to increase participation in developing the global youth statement.
With the theme “Unifying for Change in Ghana,” the conference included simulations, workshops, plenary, panel forum, and parallel sessions. These sessions were led by youth-focused organizations and speakers with expertise in the climate space.
Ms. Anne-Claire Dufay, UNICEF Ghana Representative, in her keynote address mentioned that One (1) billion humans are at an extremely high risk of climate change; that all must get serious and must act fast. She commended the government of Ghana for the continued dialogue on climate change. Further, she encouraged the Ghanaian youth to take opportunities in the fight for climate change by telling their own stories on climate issues. Also, Dr. Julian Wright, from the British High Commission Ghana, advised that the issue of climate-related matters should not be underrated and that there must be immediate action to save our climate and the existence of life.
Photographed by Nicholas Seun Adatsi
According to Mr. Nicolas Rees; Programme Specialist on Climate, Environment and Resilience, UNICEF Ghana, nearly 850 million children- over one-third of all children live in countries where they are exposed to four or more overlapping climate and environmental hazards, shocks, and stresses. He mentioned that although Ghana is not included among countries confirmed as high-risk regions on climate change, there is the need for careful attention to Ghana’s climate.
Mr. Oliver Boachie-Special Advisor to Ghana’s Minister of Environment, Science, Technology & Innovation in attendance mentioned that the issue of climate change should be more concern for the youth because the youth have more years to live on the earth and for that matter, they need to prepare to secure a safe environment for their existence. In addition, Rafael Wiese, GIZ Ghana Project Manager, called on young people to be more involved in contributing to national climate policy and its implementation.
Other concerns raised were that young people need to have access to education on climate change. There was a call for organizations to support the funding of community-based and national projects on climate change. This could be done through the provision and accessibility of tools and resources. Adding, more people should be trained on climate-related issues so they could assist in the education of climate change and its related matters. The media was admonished to contribute to the spreading of information on climate change.
The parallel sessions, led by expert and youth facilitators engaged participants in the discussion on the following climate thematic areas: Gender and Climate Change, Adaptation and Resilience, Policies and Governance, Climate Finance; Biodiversity and Nature-based Solutions, Renewable Energy and Water, Sanitation and Health. The inputs of participants will contribute to the National Youth Statement to be submitted to the COP26 Presidency in Glasgow.
Photographed by Nicholas Seun Adatsi
The conference also saw the launch of the Youth Climate Council (YCC) led by Mr. Joshua Amponsem Founder of GAYO. The YCC will serve as the umbrella for all youth climate organizations in Ghana. Again, the YCC will serve as the focal point to address climate-related issues, reinforce the existing effort of young people within the climate space in Ghana through interventions as well as provide knowledge and professional development opportunities for experienced and existing credible institutions in the climate space.
In the end, Mr. Abraham Bugre- LCOY Ghana Convener, admonished participants not to take for granted the knowledge received at the conference and tasked each of them to support the fight for climate change by engaging in climate-related projects in their communities.