African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina has announced a new $1 billion fund to accelerate climate change lending to youth businesses in Africa.
The additional financing will support YouthAdapt, a joint initiative of the World Bank and the Global Center for Adaptation. It invites young African entrepreneurs and MSMEs to submit innovative solutions and business ideas that have the potential to drive climate change adaptation and resilience across the continent.
Adesina made the $1 billion announcement during the conference. High-Level Intergenerational Dialogue: Africa Driving Climate Adaptation Solutions and Jobs, It was held at the Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environment in the suburbs of Nairobi. The institute is funded by the African Development Bank and officially opened in 2022.
Adesina joined the eightth UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN Council President Gratha Machel Graça Machel Trust and the African Child Policy Forum, Patrick Verkoijen, CEO of GCA; Abab Namwamba, Chief Cabinet Secretary for Youth Affairs, Arts and Sport, Kenya; Anne Beate Tovineraim, Minister for International Development, Norway; Kelly, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Barbados; • Mr. Simmons and other dignitaries were present.
The World Bank’s president, who announced an additional $1 billion in funding, said young people in Africa did not want to be “given a tidbit to them.” “We have no choice but to invest in young people,” Adesina said.
Over the past two years, YouthAdapt has provided over $1.5 million to 33 young entrepreneurs in 19 African countries. In some companies he increased profits by 200%.
“African youth are the present. It is their views and perspectives that change the continent,” said Adesina. “Failure to invest in youth will hurt Africa. Failure is not an option.”
In his speech, Ban told young people that as global citizens they should not be bound by borders. He called on leaders to hold them accountable for their promises. “Challenge our leaders today. Use your vote to ensure climate change adaptation and finances are top priorities.”
Mr Namwamba highlighted some of the initiatives the Kenyan government has launched to advance climate adaptation. “We are recruiting one million Youth Green Army Climate Action Warriors to support President William Ruto’s ambitious plan to plant 15 billion trees in 10 years.” He said the country’s forest cover would increase from 12% to 30%.
He noted that Kenya was the first country to ratify the Sport for Climate Action initiative under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Under this initiative, sports bodies will be able to pursue climate action in a coherent and mutually supportive manner through the dissemination of good practice, lessons learned and cooperation.
GCA’s Vercooyen said the choices faced by Africa were tough. “Adapt or die.” Still, he said the need to adapt presents an opportunity. “We know that if we give the right tools, the right funding, and give voice to the voiceless, nothing will stop you.”
The event also featured the launch of the Youth4Adaptation Communiquete, which calls on world leaders to give young people room in decision-making on climate adaptation and action. The communiqué reflects the climate adaptation aspirations of young people in 135 countries around the world and also calls for increased funding for adaptation, with the goal of doubling by 2025.
Adesina and other officials each planted a tree on the grounds of the Wangari Maathai Institute, named after the late Professor Wangari Maathai, a prominent environmental activist and Nobel laureate. She founded the Green Belt Movement, pursuing a community-based approach to conservation and working with young people, especially women, to plant trees.
They expressed their admiration for the late Professor Wangari Maathai’s strong legacy of environmental conservation and social justice.