Youths in Action: Reflections from the Global Youth Climate Summit


By Hazel Chimbiro-Bertha Justice Fellow

13 October 2023

Hazel Tariro Chimbiro, a Bertha Justice Fellow, had the privilege of attending the Global Youth Climate Summit, which was held in Tanzania from October 3 to 7, 2023. The Summit was organized by the Global Youth Leadership Center (GYLC), an organization whose mission is to expand youth’s knowledge about climate science, equip them with leadership skills to take individual and collective action, and enable them to launch businesses that contribute to climate mitigation or adaptation. The summit also saw the participants identify priority areas that youths from the Global South would want assistance on in preparation for COP28. Two hundred delegates and speakers from twenty-four countries from climate-vulnerable countries in the Global South gathered at the University of Dar es Salaam.

Youths had the opportunity to learn from experts like Sir David King, Chief Executive Officer and Conservation Commissioner of the Tanzania Forest Services Agency, and global south climate scientists from the IPCC. Some of the key topics discussed include intergenerational collaboration and the role of youth in climate action. The Chief Executive Officer and founder of GYLC offered classes on leadership skills and development. The delegates also had a field visit to the Kunduchi mangrove site along the Indian Ocean coastline, where participants planted mangrove trees to show their commitment to climate action. (Mangrove trees can capture and store carbon, thus playing a critical role in tackling the climate crisis.) Delegates also visited the Puga Natural Reserve to learn more about the ecosystem and biodiversity conservation. Some of the youth also expressed interest in understanding the carbon markets and how their communities can effectively benefit from the projects. The networking and sharing of ideas and experiences by youths was also the summit’s highlight.

Young people are leading the way in taking action to combat climate change, as evidenced by their participation during the summit. Environmental lawyers, wildlife experts, or ecologists were in attendance, including pharmacists, doctors, and other professionals who would ordinarily not have been involved years ago. Youth were encouraged to take on leadership roles and to intentionally devote time to self-development. The summit gave me an opportunity to learn from youths with diverse backgrounds who are all passionate about combating climate change.

Several participants agreed that young people are not only victims of climate change, but they are also valuable contributors to climate action. There are agents of change: entrepreneurs and innovators. Whether through education, science, or technology, young people are scaling up their efforts and using their skills to accelerate climate action.

The key highlight of the summit was the drafting of the Dar es Salaam Youth Declaration that will be presented at COP 28. The delegates identified four priority areas of youth engagement in tackling the climate crisis. These were: 

  • Education
  • Youth climate entrepreneurship
  • Youths as accountability partners and policymakers
  • Access to funding

How is ZELA addressing some of the issues identified?

As highlighted in ZELA’s Climate Change and Energy Programme, the organization notes the overwhelming evidence that the planet Earth is under threat from a changing climate. The changes are disproportionately affecting developing countries and, in particular, rural youth and women. These social groups have a low capacity to adapt, limited access to effective adaptation strategies, limited access to financial resources to finance adaptation costs, and are already reeling from the effects of other social, economic, and environmental stressors. Through its different projects, ZELA is responding to these challenges.

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