The Africa Children Climate Summit Amplifies Young Voices in the Fight Against Climate Change
As preparations for the highly anticipated Africa Climate Summit (ACS) were in full swing, it became increasingly evident that involving children in the discourse on climate change was imperative. While their participation in the ACS was a welcomed step, it was clear that it alone would not suffice. To address this, the Africa Children Climate Summit (ACCS) was conceived, providing a safe and inclusive platform for children to express their perspectives, visions, and recommendations regarding the climate crisis.
The Africa Children Climate Summit, held on September 2nd and 3rd, 2023, in Nairobi, Kenya, marked a significant milestone. Over 100 children from various East, West, and Southern African nations participated in person, with an additional seven young delegates from the Arigatou International SDGs Academy for Children, while others joined virtually.
The summit revolved around group discussions, artistic sessions, and plenary reflections, culminating in a set of recommendations presented to policymakers. Discussions and reflections centered primarily on climate change and its interconnectedness with critical aspects of children’s lives, such as education, health, food security, and migration—issues that children identified as directly impacting them.
We facilitated a special session dedicated to chaperones, comprising more than 50 teachers, parents, guardians, and adult volunteers, to explore the concept of meaningful child participation. Additionally, we led discussions tailored for children aged 10 and below aimed to provide a basic understanding of climate change, its consequences, actionable steps children can take, and the roles governments should play in resolving the issue. To enhance the children’s grasp of climate change, child-friendly versions of climate education booklets were distributed.
Notably, some children from the Africa Children Climate Summit were active participants in the ACS, effectively amplifying their voices on the global stage. Among them were five young delegates from the Arigatou International SDGs Academy for Children.
The Africa Children Climate Summit was spearheaded by Mtoto News and received support from diverse partners, including GIZ. Other organizations that played a pivotal role in facilitating children’s participation included Child Fund, Child Rights Network, Graca Machel Fund, World Vision, Plan International, Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages, The Nelson Mandela Foundation, TDH, and Arigatou International, among many others.
The inaugural Africa Children Climate Summit underscored the importance of engaging children in the climate change dialogue, ensuring their voices are heard and respected as they advocate for a sustainable and environmentally conscious future for Africa and the world.