A boy stands with his back to the camera. He is wearing a black T shirt with the quote 'Act now for Climate Justice" written on it. He is facing a group of young children. They are sitting outside on the ground, in what appears to be a school complex.
Simeon working with primary school children to build awareness on climate change.

COP27: An Open Letter to World Leaders

Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change, and COP27 presents a crucial opportunity to do something about it, says Simeon Kalua, a climate activist from Malawi. 

Hello world leaders, if you think COP27 is just a mere conference with more blah, blah, blah speeches then let’s not gather in Egypt this November. We have had COPs before and we’ve heard your speeches and pledges. We’ve also seen you go back to your various countries after COP and renege on your promises and pledges. Climate change is a 21st-century global issue, and COP27 is an opportunity for us to come up with concrete and powerful climate actions, and commit to them.

COP27: COP for Africans  

I call COP27 – COP for Africans. Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to climate change. COP27 presents an opportunity to do something about it. The latest IPCC report says half of humanity is highly vulnerable – and this is especially true for a country like Malawi – which has been dramatically impacted by climate change, despite contributing little to global heating. Unpredictable rainfall and droughts pose critical threats to the country’s agricultural industries which support nearly 80% of the country’s working population to earn a living.

Impact of Climate Change on Malawi.

This year alone, Malawi has seen an increase in climate related disasters. In January, the country was devastated by Cyclone Ana. 994,967 people were affected, 46 were killed, and 206 were injured – and over two hundred thousand people were displaced from their homes. The heavy rains destroyed hospitals, bridges, school blocks and roads. 

In October, areas in the Shire Valley were severely affected by extreme heat. Temperatures soared to about 40 to 42 degree Celsius. High temperatures are associated with negative impacts on mental health – “In recent years there’s been an increasingly large body of research showing us that heatwaves worsen outcomes for those with underlying psychiatric illnesses,” says Dr Laurence Wainwright, a departmental lecturer at the Smith School and the precision psychiatry lab at the University of Oxford.

Malawi has also seen a serious outbreak of cholera – a climate-sensitive disease.  There have been 183 deaths this year. Africa is looking to COP to respond to the priorities of vulnerable populations.

Learn from young people.

Our world leaders need to learn from young people across the world and act urgently. As young people we are aware of our responsibility to the next generation – we don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past. We’re standing outside parliaments, we’re demanding climate action, and we’re letting you know that we don’t have time

I’m inspired by Swedish climate Activist Greta Thunberg. Greta isn’t the only one though – across the world, young people are taking action, big or small. Last year, Greta blasted world leaders. She said that their intentional lack of action was a betrayal toward all present as well as the next generation. Let’s not let this carry-on. As young people, we are looking for a change. And we are looking to COP to make a difference. 

Simply put, here’s what we want from our leaders as they discuss climate action at COP27: 

  • Fulfil the promises and pledges that you make at COP, back home. We want to see change. 
  • Invest in renewable energy. Say no to fossil fuels.
  • Listen to your citizens – and especially the vulnerable. The effects of climate change are not equal. Make sure your adaptations reflect that. 
  • Targeted financing towards adaptation and mitigation programmes. 

  1. Advice to leaders from desert child’s hope organization the youth initiative program based in Northern part of Kenya the arid land which is 98% desert with temperature around 45°-46° everyday,the hazardous environment with poisonous snakes and scorpions at the same time the most highly affected region of Africa specifically Northern Kenya marsabit sub-county is highly heat by climate change.The livelyhood of people living around this region have been impacted by drought and worst climate changes previously 95% of domestic animals that pastrolist communities around this region depend on had all died.The discussion of leaders addressed the climate should be implemented starting with supporting grassroot initiative program that can reach out to this vunrable community that are highly affected so that they can advocate for solutions to fulfill Young people needs by teaching them on importance of conserving the environment and planting three’s to impact climate change

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COP27: An Open Letter to World Leaders

by Simeon Kalua Reading time: 2 min