He made the disclosure during a youth climate consultation in Kigali on 6th March 2023.
“The reality of an uncertain future driven by climate change also translates into a disproportionate impact on youth and future generations. Therefore, youth everywhere deserve to be at the forefront of negotiations where decisions are made about protecting their future and preventing an irreversible climate crisis,” AlQahtani stated.
The event was aimed at providing young African leaders and other relevant stakeholders a platform to share their most significant challenges and opportunities for climate action and to integrate their inputs and policy proposals into the COP28 agenda.
Organized by Shamma Al Mazrui, UAE Minister of Community Development and the UAE’s Youth Climate Champion for COP28, the consultation was facilitated in collaboration with the Food Action Alliance and held on the margins of the Resilient Health Systems for Africa Conference in Kigali.
The consultation focused on determining opportunities for young people at COP28 and sought feedback on three emerging COP28 platform priorities for the region in the context of climate change: gender, environment, and food systems.
It brought together 24 young people and stakeholders, including Tony Nsanganira, former Minister of State in charge of Agriculture and current Deputy Country Director for the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. The dialogue included youth representatives from the African Leadership University, as well as organizations involved in environmental conservation and food systems.
The event also gathered key partners and stakeholders who were invited to ensure they could listen to the concerns and recommendations of young people.
In his remarks, Ambassador AlQahtani thanked youth leaders for the instrumental role they have played in addressing ‘this defining challenge of our time.’ Specifically, he recognized the role of youth in communicating grassroots concerns around climate change and associated crises and proposing solutions to these challenges.
Looking ahead to COP28, which will be hosted in the UAE from 30 November – 12 December 2023 Ambassador AlQahtani noted that the first Global Stocktake (GST) since the Paris Agreement will conclude during COP28, a milestone moment for the world
The Global Stocktake will assess the world’s collective progress towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and importantly, identify the gaps.
Amb. AlQahtani commented: “It must be about the solutions to closing those gaps between now and 2030 across all four pillars of the Paris Agreement
– mitigation, adaptation, loss and damage, and finance – through a process that demonstrates greater inclusivity, transparency, and accountability than ever before.”
“We are committed to ensuring that COP28 in the UAE is inclusive of all, especially those at the frontlines of climate change, including civil society, indigenous peoples, and other minority groups,” he added.
With its strong diversity, youth leadership, and innovation, Amb. AlQahtani said, the UAE understands the need for concerted youth engagement. This is reflected by the appointment of Shamma Al Mazrui, UAE Minister of Community Development, as the COP28 Youth Climate Champion.
Al Mazrui will be the first-ever Youth Climate Champion with a ministerial role. The position will serve as a bridge-builder between youth, governments, the COP28 Presidency, and UNFCCC. It will help to mainstream youth participation throughout the COP28 process and mobilize substantive policy and programmatic outcomes for young people in climate implementation.
“We hope this will lead towards finding more recognition and support for your climate work in Rwanda and beyond, and the team here will be taking thorough notes to ensure your experiences and policy visions are carried back to Her Excellency, the Youth Climate Champion, and in turn to the highest-level decision-makers for COP28,” noted Amb. AlQahtani.
He added that a few initiatives will be announced throughout the year by the COP Presidency, creating greater accessibility for young people to engage in the negotiation process.