It’s been a few weeks since COP28, and a lot has been discussed on the mix of promises, pledges and commitments emerging from this year’s climate change annual summit in Dubai. With a diverse contingent of young people from Restless Development’s Africa and Asia hubs actively participating across various platforms at COP, it’s time for us to reflect on our engagement, and how it’s going to further strengthen our commitment towards championing youth-led, youth-centric climate change initiatives. 

But before we have a sneak peek into our key moments at COP and their significance, let’s look at how COP28 has fared from the perspective of meaningful youth engagement – which are crucial from Restless Development’s perspective as they pave the way for amplified youth voices in global climate discussions and decisions. This year, COP28 marked a recognizable shift in climate diplomacy by placing youth at the forefront of the global conversation on climate change. Key platforms were initiated on the Youth, Children, Skills, Education day on 8th December.

Central to this commitment was the significant milestone of Youth Stocktake, a comprehensive analysis of youth involvement in climate diplomacy, offering a strategic blueprint to enhance their participation in the COP process. The COP28 Presidency, under Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, emphasized the importance of building a global legacy, defying expectations and ensuring full inclusivity with a focus on securing a better future for youth and children. One of the other significant highlights from youth participation perspective was the COP28 Youth Climate Delegates Program, a landmark initiative towards youth participation in COP processes, equipped 110 young delegates from diverse backgrounds with the necessary tools to actively engage in shaping the future of global climate action. 

A key initiative launched in COP28 where Restless Development is quite neatly placed to complement its mission is the Greenrising Initiative. A UNICEF and Genderation Unlimited program, supported by some well-aligned funders, will create pathways for at least 10 million children and youth in developing countries to take grassroots climate action by 2025

 Restless Development’s vision on Climate Change priority area amplified by the diverse initiatives across our hubs echoes the thought of Mr. Bhupender Yadav, Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change, India, who said during the launch of Greenrising Initiative “Youth suffer the most due to the effects of climate change and they are key to attaining a sustainable world. There is no denying that young people are valuable agents of change as innovators, entrepreneurs, and climate-conscious individuals who can foster positive change. Our responsibility is to provide them with a blend of the right knowledge and skills focussed on technological power and environmental sense and equip them to take advantage of new environment-oriented opportunities.”


The young cohort from Restless Development not only actively participated in some of the key discussions across the topics of food security, gender – climate nexus, climate crisis and education, agriculture, and other key areas, but Restless was able to achieve some of the significant milestones and partnerships during the annual summit as well. 


Restless Development’s commitment towards creating youth leadership in climate change space was further amplified by the launch of an impactful initiative – Global Girls Creating Change (G2C2) – A three-year project aims to foster and elevate a diverse movement of girl-centered climate action to lead, shape, and inform equitable, inclusive climate policies and actions. Recognizing the importance of active participation and leadership of girls in climate efforts, the US Department of State along with the grantees Hivos, Restless Development and Yavasen Humanis launched the G2C2 program under the WISE Initiative on the Gender Day at COP 28. 

Led by Restless Development in Uganda and Nepal with key support in other 25 countries as part of the coalition through the Youth Collective network, ‘Global Girls Creating Change’ (G2C2) is informed by an intersectional climate justice approach, with girls in all their diversity, and in particular girls from marginalized groups disproportionately affected by climate change are at the center. The consortium lead Hivos and the other partner Yavasen would be implementing it in Brazil and Indonesia. This new $3 million initiative will support a global network to engage girls in STEM skills education, entrepreneurship training, and network building, and policy and decision-making at local, regional, and global levels.  


Being one of the key partners in GREEN (Global Response to Education and Environment Network) Initiative, Restless Development took part in the discussion with key partners of GREEN including the founding members from Fhi 360. GREEN is a consortium of actors working at the intersection of education and climate change to bridge ideas and expertise from a collaborative partnership to advance ideas, innovation and research that can inform policies and drive meaningful action in response to climate-related challenges and their impact on education.

Restless Development is one of the implementing partners in the CO-CREATE project under the CAPE initiative under USAID and FCDO with the leadership of Aga Khan Foundation. Through this project, the consortium will test new, teacher- and youth-led solutions for promoting climate action in schools and communities. Thus, as part of the network of Aga Khan Foundation’s initiatives in climate change and education, Restless Development was invited to be a part of the launch of Teachers for the Planet on the RewirED initiative during COP 28. Teachers for the Planet is an online portal of over 100 teacher-led, teacher-tested, and teacher-approved climate action solutions for education from more than 60 countries, co-funded by Dubai Cares

Youth champions from Tanzania and India participated in some of the key negotiations, led discussions in key panels, with the cohort from Tanzania playing a paramount role in anchoring the Tanzanian Pavillion activities as they were a part of the government supported cohort. Some of the key topics of discussions that our youth delegates actively participated include – ‘Just transition to sustainable and healthy livestock production systems’, ‘The Adaptation Imperative: Addressing the need of Smallholder Producers’, ‘ Intergenerational workshop: The transformative power of education amid the climate crisis’ among others.  We were also excited to have our Global Chair of Board Jenny Wilson joining us and sharing some of her thoughts on Restless Development’s climate change initiatives as well. 

COP28 is a significant moment for us at Restless Development as we look closely at our climate change priority area that brings together and amplifies youth-led voices from the marginalized grassroot contexts in the national, regional and global platforms – through their active participation and leadership in research, innovation, capacity building, advocacy and learning – while power-shifting the local and global narratives to be more inclusive and youth-centric. 

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by Shripathi Hadigal Reading time: 5 min