Meet LearningPlanet Youth Fellow Walter from Uganda. Learn of his hopes and dreams around COP28, particularly around integrating youth voices into these events.
Tell us about yourself
I am a youth leader, LearningPlanet Youth Fellow, environmentalist, and human rights advocate. I design and implement programmes that mobilise, engage, empower, and include youth in all decision-making processes. As a co-founder and director of programmes at Marafiki United Green Youth Initiative, I ensure that youth is well-represented and actively participate in discussions on topics like adaptation and mitigation, clean energy, plastic waste recycling, empowerment, migrants, and refugees.
Additionally, I am involved in the Youth Sounding Board in Uganda, where I help shape and implement EU programmes and strategies in the country, primarily focusing on climate, environment, and energy issues.
What do you expect from COP28? How do you feel about it?
I believe COP28 provides an opportunity to move from mere intentions to concrete actions on pressing climate change issues. Here are the key topics that, in my opinion, need urgent attention:
- Operationalisation of the loss and damage fund
- Empowerment of the Santiago Network
- Setting realistic new climate financial goals
- Inclusion of loss and damage in the global stocktake
- Emphasising the importance of climate adaptation
- Boosting youth participation via Action for Climate Empowerment
- Prioritising transparency and inclusivity in climate action
- Ensuring that the carbon market respects the environment
- Pushing for a just transition
- Focusing on green jobs, skills, and economies
“Let’s remain steadfast in our commitment to the climate battle and prioritise climate justice for the countries most affected by climate change.”
If you were at COP28, what would you say to politicians and decision-makers? What would be your priority topic?
I would convey a crucial message to politicians and decision-makers: The fight against climate change will be an uphill battle if we allow external and political influences to sabotage important decisions. We need to change our lifestyles and curb wasteful consumption to conserve our planet’s climate-sensitive resources. Let’s remain steadfast in our commitment to the climate battle and prioritise climate justice for the countries most affected by climate change.
Which decisions do you think will be the most important?
In my view, the most critical decisions at COP28 will revolve around:
- Allocating sufficient funds for loss and damage
- Ensuring a just transition to sustainable practices
- Upholding climate justice
How can education and youth make a change?
Education, besides being a human right, is a prerequisite for achieving sustainable development and an essential tool for community transformation. Youth can leverage education to disseminate climate change information, raise awareness, and engage in intergenerational dialogues to devise solutions for society’s common challenges.
What do you think of young people’s participation in COP28? Do you think current and future generations will be adequately represented?
More than ever, young people are actively participating in COP by joining party delegations, including governments, observer organisations, youth groups, academia, civil society, and the private sector. They also have the opportunity to host side events, pavilions, and showcase their climate change solutions in the green zone. However, there’s always room for improvement, and we must continue to work towards ensuring that the voices of current and future generations are not just heard but genuinely considered in decision-making processes.
Any other thoughts?
As a young individual, I’ve witnessed the climate crisis escalate throughout my life. I no longer wish to succumb to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. I’ve dedicated myself to combating the climate crisis because my survival and future are at stake. I invite others to join me today in this battle against climate change, as together, we can make a meaningful difference for our planet and generations to come.