Locating the role Young People in the Just energy transition: A reflection of the 2023 Youth Symposium.


Compiled by Fortunate Chilenje-Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA), Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), and Zimbabwe Coalition for Debt and Development (ZIMCODD), recognise that investing in young people in all spheres of development is vital including involving them in the just energy transition agenda. The three organisations hosted the 2023 Youth Symposium on October 16, 2023, a day ahead of the 12th edition of the Zimbabwe Alternative Mining Indaba (ZAMI). The symposium featured a discussion led by youth where they highlighted the critical role, they play in advancing environmental justice.  It is without a doubt that a sustainable future can be built by optimising Zimbabwe’s demographic dividend.  In that light, it is therefore past due for society as a whole to acknowledge the influence of young and the value of investing in their future which will go a long way towards a green economy.

Welcome remarks from ZELA Director Mutuso Dhliwayo, ZCC’s Secretary General Rev Wilfred Dimingu and ZIMCODD Director Janet Zhou, set the tone for the Symposium in a positive manner.  Speaking to the issue of leaving no one behind, they emphasised that unleashing community potential and involvement is vital in the critical mineral sector and that bringing communities living in mining host towns together will help everyone, including young people and bring about change for the greater good of communities.

Youth from various communities were given the opportunity to share their personal experiences while discussions on the just transition topics took place. I found myself considering how young people might play an active role in a just energy transition as a result of this entire dialogue, and this has prompted me to contribute in writing and reflect  on the recently concluded Youth  Symposium. I would like to start the discussion by referencing the International Labour Organisation’s definition of a just energy transition which defines a just energy transition as one that greens the economy in the most equitable and inclusive manner feasible for all parties involved, creates adequate employment opportunities, and leaves no one behind.  This promotes a purposeful green strategy that is based on a holistic approach to economic resilience, social equality, and environmental sustainability[1]

During the discussions, a lot of valuable information was shared that I believe would be very beneficial to me and my fellow environmentalists as we work to promote a green economy. The Youth Symposium, in my opinion, was a notable event that demonstrated how young people can contribute to a fair energy transition.  Here are some of the main points raised on the role that youth play in this discourse. 

  • In order to contribute to the transition to green growth, the youth can effectively exploit rising digital penetration and deploy these technologies to improve climate change advocacy and governance across interest groups.
  • Young people can participate in peer-to-peer learning to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, which will boost cross-pollination of ideas and can result in holistic and integrated approaches to just transitions, taking into account environmental, social, and economic factors. 
  • Youth are eager to learn new skills, which puts us in a good position to pursue green careers that help preserve and restore the environment, whether in established green industries like manufacturing and construction or in brand-new, emerging ones like renewable energy
  • Youth can employ innovation to generate novel responses to environmental problems, sustainable technologies, climate resilient farming techniques, or community-based renewable energy projects.


  • The Government needs to improve affordability of digital resources in relation to a green economy to enable the youths to embark on digital literacy awareness.
  • There is need  for the Ministry of Information  Communication Technology and Courier Services  to assist in  bridging  the information gap by supporting access to information to all the rural and urban youth.
  • In order for youth to reach their full potential, stakeholders and organisations that work with young people need to support the innovative efforts of the youth. These can include, among others, the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change, and Wildlife and the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts, and Recreation.
  • Community-based and non-governmental groups must support the youth by enhancing advocacy abilities, providing education, and supporting us in our role in the transition to a green economy.

Finally, because a just transition positions everyone in society at the core of a net-zero future, involving young people in policy development, awareness programmes, and decision-making continues to have a significant impact.   Because of the knowledge we gained at the Youth Symposium, I believe we were very well-equipped to engage in the just energy conversation. The road begins now, with the goal of creating a green Zimbabwe, a green economy, and a green world.

[1] https://voices.ilo.org/podcast/green-jobs-a-solution-to-youth-employment-and-the-climate-crisis

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