On Thursday 21st October the British High Commissioner Kate Airey OBE and the British Council Country Director for Uganda Chilufya Besa hosted a Climate Youth Engagement event bringing together prominent young Ugandan climate actors and key members of the Ugandan COP26 delegation, including the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Water and Environment.
The 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) will take place in Glasgow between 31 October and 12 November, hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy. With less than two weeks to go before the start of COP26, and following on from the Youth4Climate summit hosted by Italy at the end of September, this event was a key moment in Uganda’s COP26 preparations.
Young people have been among the strongest voices calling for urgent global action to address climate change and youth voices will be at the heart of COP26. Uganda is fortunate to have many passionate and active youth climate activists, entrepreneurs, scholars and leading employees of climate and energy organisations including Vanessa Nakate, who attended the Youth4Climate summit in Milan in September and gave an impassioned and emotional speech underlining how climate change is affecting Africa.
The event, hosted in Kampala by the British High Commission, was designed to give a platform to other prominent Ugandan climate activists to share and discuss their concerns about climate change in Uganda, the region and globally with key members of the Ugandan COP26 delegation in advance of their trip to the UK. It was an opportunity for young people to speak about their hopes for COP26 and the actions they would like to see come from it, helping to give young people a voice in Uganda’s climate negotiations. Youth participants were also encouraged to share a written statement entitled ‘Uganda Youth Statement of Priorities for COP26’.
In attendance were youth activists from organisations such as Resilient 40, Girls for Climate, Youth Go Green and Smart Youth Initiative plus Chevening and Commonwealth Scholarship alumni who studied in the climate field.
Speaking at the event the British High Commissioner Kate Airey said: ‘COP26 is a critical moment, not just for Uganda but for the whole world and collaboration is key. We need the whole world to come together and commit to ambitious climate action and that includes youth. Youth have a key role to play in raising ambition, but also in implementing action. This is an opportunity to send a message to both the UK Presidency and the Ugandan delegation on what their priorities should be and what a successful COP should look like’
British Council Country Director Chilufya Besa added: ‘Last month, the British Council launched the Global Youth Letter which expressed the views, experiences and aspirations of 8,000 young people from across 23 countries. By directly addressing the leaders attending COP26 at today’s event, the young people in Uganda have added their voices to what is a global call for urgent action to protect our planet’