Youth Summit 2023 - Climate Justice

youth summit kl

"Plant Today - Grow Tomorrow" - this was the motto under which the youth network young@mission21 met on Saturday, April 22, for this year's Youth Summit. More than 50 young adults from 13 countries logged on to the virtual city "Gather" and addressed the problems and progress in working for climate justice in the individual countries in webinars.

Janet Kefas from Nigeria holds one of four webinars this afternoon. But it's afternoon only for some of the 50 participants at this year's Youth Summit. The youth and young adults from the young@mission21 youth network have joined from 13 countries - including Asia, where it is already evening, and Latin America, where it is still morning.

Janet talks about her country's agricultural sector, which accounts for a huge share of the economy. Around 30 percent of employees make their living from agriculture. "For the poorest sections of the population, it is two to four times more effective to earn an income in agriculture than in other sectors," says the agricultural scientist and former Mission 21 youth ambassador.

But the country is groaning under the consequences of climate change. For decades, the Sahara has been spreading southward. Driven by deforestation, monocultures and the increasingly irregular and shorter rainy seasons, the desert is gaining more and more land. In turn, heavy rains increase during the rainy season, causing rivers to burst their banks and destroy young seeds. 2.8 million people were directly affected by the floods in August 2022, and 19 million people felt the impact of crop failures, according to the EU Commission's situation report.

Climate change increasingly noticeable

"People in agriculture here are clearly feeling climate change. Most of them are willing to change their farming methods to practice sustainable agriculture," Janet explains. Unfortunately, she says, there are also many who have priorities other than sustainability. She says it is even more important to show people in concrete terms how they can grow more effectively and sustainably. This is done, for example, through the Farmer's Field Day of our partner organization EYN, which focuses on of this year's campaign of Mission 21 stands.

After the presentation, Janet answers questions from participants around the world. A young man from Ghana wants to know if it is also the case in the neighboring country of Nigeria that people can only harvest once a year and how the population survives the rest of the year. "Yes exactly, in many places there is only one harvest," Janet confirms. "Many people look for other work in between, others have started to irrigate their fields artificially. It's the only way they can harvest throughout the year."

More exchange among young adults

While Janet reports on the situation in Nigeria and answers questions, other Zoom workshops and talks take place in parallel: Young people from Peru and Malaysia talk about their projects on food sovereignty and organic farming. A total of more than 50 participants from 13 countries listen in and join in the discussion. After 45 minutes, a short break is followed by the second round of workshops, and finally all participants share their experiences together on "Gather".

That is precisely the goal of the young@mission21 youth network: to promote intercultural exchange. Every year, the young adults connected in the network meet on a current topic in the Youth Summit - on site, like last year, or online. Together, they learn from each other and contribute their ideas and thoughts.

Fortunately, the network is growing steadily, not least thanks to the three-year Youth Ambassador Program, which is about to start up again. The unique program enables encounters worldwide - as at this year's Youth Summit. If you're interested in more international exchange, click here right now:
► Youth Ambassador Program

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