Young voices are key to fighting Climate Change in Africa

Meaningful inclusion of young people’s perception of climate change in Africa is essential to boost global climate action, says Brian Malika

A recent publication by Thomson Reuters showed that out of the 1,000 leading global scientists on climate change during this COVID 19 period, only 5 were African.

This statistic is indicative of a severe shortage of meaningful inclusion of intellectual African youth voices in research, publication, and reviews on climate change. This reality not only denies the majority of Africans the chance to frontline research based  innovations that address climate change issues at their local level but also contravenes the ‘’Nothing For Us Without Us‘’ motto that aspires for inclusivity as a pillar for achieving the  United Nations  Sustainable Development Goals.

Climate Change Vulnerability

Sub-Saharan Africa is vulnerable to severe climate change repercussions as a result of increased greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural activities and the rapid growth of non-green urban cities built to accommodate the growing population in the continent.

Furthermore, African youth voices on climate change in research and publications have been further constricted since the onset of COVID-19. The COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary to digitalize the use of data. Most physical learning institutions closed down, paving room for online sources of information which are regarded as the safest socially distanced avenues to learn.

The Digital Divide

As such, this new trend has brought about a digital divide in the difference in accessing the internet and technology within the Sub-Saharan Continent where access to the internet is at 18 percent instead of the recommended global target of 30 percent  with less than 10 percent of Africa’s households being connected to  dependable wifi.  While at this,  we need to point out that Europe and America have 78 percent and 81 percent internet coverage (way above Global recommendation by more than half). 

During this COVID-19 period when access to knowledge migrated to digital platforms,  we have evidently experienced how  the  global digital divide  greatly widened the gap to accessing research and publication opportunities between the Global North and South.

Thanks to internet of things developments, Global North Scholars on climate change made a seamless switch to virtual learning , research and publication while their counterparts within the Global South (like Sub-Saharan Africa ), faced  basic internet shortage thus limiting their studies on climate change during COVID-19 restrictions on physical learning .

Prioritizing Climate Change Innovations

In order to ensure a safe, inclusive and fairer future for all, we must prioritize innovations that deal with climate. This is because climate change does underpin the success of all the 17 United Nations  Sustainable Development Goals. We need an enabling climate change reality to attain peace, well-being, health, end inequalities or attain nutrition and food security.

As a proposal, I would advise that we harness Africa’s most valuable resource (her ballooning youth population) as an investment to attain climate change goals like enhanced research, educational promotion and even programming of renewable grassroots community ventures.

This can be done in the following five climate change programming initiatives that are not only  friendly but also meaningful for youth involvement  :

  1. Decolonising Climate Change Research

 To increase climate change adaptation and mitigate effects of climate vulnerability in the next decade, there needs to be a bottom-up approach that would decolonize climate change research. Local knowledge on climate change needs to be amplified. Voices of traditionally marginalized populations like adolescent girls and young women, youth with disabilities as well as those living in rural and slum areas need to be heard.

  1. Creating safe spaces for Climate Change Conversation

This can be done through crafting digital avenues to accommodate creativity in climate change communication avenues like short clips of spoken words, drama, songs, articles, and even panel events that would embrace thoroughly researched climate change issues facing Africa.

  1. Mentoring Young People 

Additionally, mentoring vulnerable youthful African population at grassroots level on research methodologies like qualitative and quantitative angles so that they can use the same to communicate their climate change topics in their own artistic voices sounds like a sustainable skill transfer approach for reporting and community climate change journalism.

  1. Accessibility of language

African youth voices need an avenue to publish their pieces in Swahili which is Africa’s most spoken language but normally ignored in research publications, sign language which holds the key to accommodating more than 12 million African youth on the climate change discussions.

  1. Embracing Diversity

Diversification of young African voices on climate change has the potential to amplify important climate change issues that affect African grassroots communities to important stakeholders like Government, Civil Society, and private businesses and thus contribute to securing more funding on the climate change issues in Africa.

Feature Image by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


  • Brian M

    Brian Malika is the Founder of One More Percent, a grassroots movement that advocates for climate action, tech rights, and inclusion. He believes that to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals within the next few years; we must deliberately amplify the voices of women, girls, persons with disabilities, and gender minorities on important issues like climate action, digital rights, and gender equality.

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Young voices are key to fighting Climate Change in Africa

by Brian Malika Reading time: 3 min