Abu Dhabi, UAE: The Arab Youth Center (AYC) will found the Arab Youth Council for Climate Change (AYCCC), a platform that will enable the Arab world’s leading youth climate activists to contribute to the global fight against the greatest existential threat of the 21st century.
Set to launch on International Youth Day 2021, the youth climate change platform arrives days after the issue of the world’s largest report on climate change by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which confirmed that human activity is unequivocally to blame for the exacerbation of extreme weather conditions and rapid global warming. Engaging youth in climate activism is critical to global efforts to stem the tide of wildfires and floods that have upended the planet’s equilibrium.
Her Excellency Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Vice president of AYC, said: “The launch of AYCCC could not have come at a more critical time. The move marks a qualitative leap in the interaction of Arab youth with environmental issues, and directly supports Arab efforts to protect our environment against the devastating impact of climate change.”
AYCCC will also play a key role in supporting the UAE’s bid to host the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) – the world’s most prominent high-level meeting on climate change.
AYC will launch the Council in cooperation with several key partners, including the Arab League, the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and the Office of the UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate Change.
AYCCC has outlined several strategic goals, including equipping young Arabs with the skills required to face the challenges posed by climate change, representing their voices at Arab and international environmental events, supporting Arab countries in achieving their climate objetcives, making strategic recommendations to decision-makers in the Arab world, proposing effective solutions in partnership with the public and private sector, and encouraging investment in startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the field of environmental protection and combating climate change.
Areas of specialization
AYCCC members will be selected for a two-year period. The work of the Council will cover six areas:
- optimal natural resources and water management
- clean and renewable energy
- circular economy
- agriculture and food security
- reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality
- adaptation to climate change
Youth empowermentFor his part, His Excellency Dr Abdullah Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “Empowering young people to become active players in our fight against climate change at home and abroad is a key priority for the UAE. In this context, MOCCAE launched the Emirates Youth Climate Strategy in 2018 with the aim of raising awareness about the climate crisis among the international youth community, developing youth capacities to combat climate change, and promoting youth participation in decision making and climate action. In addition, we include young people in the country’s delegations to relevant international conferences and involve them in climate negotiations. To bridge the gap between youth and policy makers, and ensure that young voices are heard in shaping the future of our nation, we have engaged the young generation in platforms such as the Abu Dhabi Climate Meeting in 2019. Moreover, to increase the contributions of young minds, we launched the UAE Climate Change Research Network that brings together committed scientists and researchers to advance research on climate change.”
He added: “The expertise that our youth has acquired from these initiatives will serve as a foundation for the work of AYCCC. I am confident that this all-inclusive Arab youth driving force will go a long way in boosting climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts in the region.”
His Excellency Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and the UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate Change, said: “The future-oriented vision of the UAE’s leadership means it is a national priority to empower our young people. To fulfil the economic potential of the UAE, it is crucial the nation has a mobilized and active youth population. The launch of AYCCC is a strategic step that will enhance youth participation in climate action.”
He highlighted the UAE’s initiatives that embody a model of active commitment to climate action and how youth plays a key role in the nation’s strategic programs. These include the UAE’s flagship renewable energy company, Masdar, as well as pioneering projects that have helped increase the country’s renewable energy capacity by 400% in the past decade.
His Excellency Dr. Al Jaber also stressed the promising economic opportunities for future generations that will be created through diversifying the energy mix, as the country develops further capabilities in clean and renewable energy and in mitigating the impact of climate change. He expressed his confidence in the ability of Arab youth to play an important role in this field. He highlighted, as an example, the active youth participation in the team of the Office of the UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate Change. That work supports the UAE’s bid to host COP28 in 2023, as well as increasing its resourcefulness and creativity to find solutions that ensure a sustainable future for all.
Quantum leap in innovation
Her Excellency Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Vice President of AYC, said: “Climate change has become a daily challenge in many parts of the world. It is threatening food and water security, and negatively affecting quality of life in cities and communities. As the interest of young people in pressing issues increases, AYC – under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan – responded by launching AYCCC to achieve a quantum leap in Arab youth’s engagement with environmental issues.”
She added: “The Arab League’s General Secretariat, MOCCAE and the Office of the UAE’s Special Envoy for Climate Change support the new council. AYCCC also benefits from the UAE’s model of empowering youth in various fields, including protecting the environment and combating climate change.”
AYCCC’s strategic partners from the ranks of government entities, companies, the business community, and Arab and global environmental organizations and initiatives that address climate change will deliver advanced training to the Council’s members, provide them with focused advice, and facilitate forwarding their proposals to decision makers as well as access to vital funding. They will also offer in-kind, logistical and promotional support to AYCCC.
United Nations Resident Coordinator for the UAE, Dr. Dena Assaf, praised the newly formed Council, saying: “The United Nations considers the UAE as a strategic partner for regional and global sustainable development issues as they have supported various key initiatives at the international level, exemplified most recently through their timely and generous support to countries during the current pandemic which has placed significant pressure on progress in sustainable development across the world.”
“In this spirit, we welcome this strategic initiative of the Arab Youth Center to launch the Arab Youth Council on Climate Change. We foresee that the council can have a leading role at the regional level and thus an ability to influence the new generation of Arab youth, who will be the leaders of tomorrow. This initiative can support putting climate change at the core of national agendas of governments in this vital region of the world, and at a most critical time when all need to take significant action to address climate change,” Dr. Dena Assaf added.
The environment as a priority
The Arab Youth Priority Survey, conducted by AYC and published in August 2020, indicates that the environment hardly represents a priority for Arab youth at only 12%. Therefore, AYCCC will seek to bring about a major change in Arab youth’s engagement with environmental and climate change issues.
The survey indicated that waste management topped environmental priority indicators at 55%, followed by limiting the depletion of natural resources at 47%, recycling and sorting waste at 41%, reducing land, sea and air pollution at 28%, regulating water consumption at 26%, and combating global warming and climate change at 18%.
Around 40% of young people say they are ready to adopt sustainable behaviors that can protect and preserve the environment and contribute to mitigating the causes of climate change, especially if these behaviors become easier to embrace.
The standards for selecting AYCCC members include being an Arab youth between the ages of 18-35, with a track record of achievements in combating climate change and environmental advocacy, motivation and drive, leadership abilities and advanced communication skills. The candidates must also have experience in climate change work, or an academic degree in environmental sciences or a similar discipline, or a passion for the cause that is proven by projects they have completed. Young people who meet these criteria can submit applications to join the Council via the below link. Climate.arabyouthcenter.org
AYCCC seeks to achieve six main outcomes: engaging Arab youth in the local and global environmental and climate decision-making process, building youth capabilities and skills to tackle environmental challenges through training programs, enhancing international cooperation through integrating youth efforts with those of public and private sector institutions and international environmental organizations, developing creative solutions, promoting the adoption of sound environmental practices in the Arab world and facilitating green financing for promising youth projects that address climate change.