Open Letter to the African Union

The Context

In the lead up to COP27, the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Egypt in November, over 700 youth from twenty one African countries have signed a joint open letter calling on the leadership of the African Union (AU) to prioritize systemic change in the face of the worsening climate crisis. 

The delivery and publishing of the letter is the culmination of the Africa’s Youth Voices Online conference series organized by the African Climate Alliance, a youth-led group acting and advocating for Afrocentric climate justice. The conference series brought together youth from across the continent to discuss pertinent issues arising in communities affected by climate change and to collaborate on the development of the open letter. The aim was to amplify messaging from communities across Africa whose voices are not always heard in the negotiations taking place at meetings such as COP27. 

“This letter contains the messages and hopes that many youth and communities across the continent want the leaders in Africa to hear ahead of COP27,” says Mitchelle Mhaka, programmes manager of the African Climate Alliance. “We need to prioritize indigenous knowledge and to call on the global north to provide climate reparations to address the loss and damage facing communities in Africa due to climate impacts.”

In addition to the hundreds of youth who have signed on, the letter has been endorsed by 350 Africa, Don’t Gas Africa, Power Shift Africa,  Khantsa Energy and Africa Climate Movement-of-Movements. 

The Letter

Dear African Union Leaders, 

This year an African country – Egypt – will host COP 27, where world leaders will come together to address how to limit global emissions and reduce the impacts of global warming and climate crisis. We believe that this is a critical opportunity for African leaders to showcase their leadership in addressing the climate crisis and safeguarding the people that they represent.  

Many countries in Africa continue experiencing the escalating harsh impacts of the climate crisis and ecological breakdown to a massive degree. From torrential rainfall across Malawi causing flooding in areas that were already affected by floods due to tropical storm Ana, to thousands of livelihoods displaced due to floods in Eastern and Western regions of Uganda, to communities facing severe drought conditions across the Horn of Africa. 

People are feeling the very real effects of climate change, made worse as there are insufficient adaptation systems or effective safety plans to reduce the damage caused by it. There is an urgent need for adaptation and mitigation plans to be financed. The detrimental effects of climate change are only set to worsen and will become unmanageable if we do not act fast. 

We know that resources – including coal, oil and gas – were plundered from Africa and used by countries in the global north to build up their economies while destabilizing the climate, all on the backs of African people’s slave labour. African countries have not experienced the wealth made by their own resources, and still have to deal with the effects and harms of the way the resources were extracted. 

Some may argue that African countries should now be given the opportunity to exploit fossil fuels but this is neither a path towards energy security, nor to a safe climate. History must not be misused as an excuse to build fossil fuel infrastructure and put the land and people in harm’s way. 

Furthermore, if Africa develops new infrastructure for fossil fuels, these will become stranded assets in a few years time, as the world shifts to renewables, and countries realise the opportunity to go green. The people of Africa – especially those already living in energy poverty – cannot afford billions to be wasted. Therefore, due to the nature and urgency of the crisis, the development of renewable energy sources in Africa is essential, not only to reduce emissions but also to avoid economic hardships in the future.

Financing to develop infrastructure for renewable energy and alternatives is widely available for countries who wish to move away from fossil fuels. This will directly benefit African youth, affording us the opportunities to have financial stability. 

As leaders of the African Union (AU), you are in a unique and powerful position to negotiate for climate reparations for loss and damage finance rather than loans that accrue interest. Climate reparations are essential to compensate for the loss and damage experienced by Africa due to the extraction and burning of fossil fuels. Reparations will also assist in building green infrastructure. 

Renewable energy has also been proven to be cheaper and have a faster turnover period than fossil fuels, and has the potential to create thousands of jobs which can benefit African youth. This is in stark comparison to projects such as the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline, of which 70% of the profits will go to foreign companies. 

We cannot stress enough the importance of and responsibility on the part of you, our AU leaders, to put systems in place that ensure that money earmarked for decarbonising African economies is used for its intended purpose – and that it benefits the people and not corrupt systems.  

Renewable energy such as solar, wind and hydro electricity with current technology is not a perfect solution to our climate change crisis and energy poverty. We need to improve the ways in which renewables are procured and rolled out to ensure we are not repeating patterns of neo-colonial violence. For example, the Democratic Republic of Congo is a major hotspot for battery mining projects, but mining operations are leaving  people destitute and prone to diseases. Social and environmental impacts must be rigorously addressed as the transition towards renewables and alternatives is underway. 

The expansion of renewable energy and alternatives brings an opportunity to change the way resource extraction is done, and is an urgent and essential step in the right direction. Only by abandoning and abolishing fossil fuel exploration can we make space for an African economy that causes less social and environmental harm and potentially unlocks better long-term solutions than what exists currently. 

Importantly, the actions taken to address climate change and ecological breakdown cannot be done in isolation. Therefore we call on you, our AU leaders, to consider, strategise and implement practices with the help of experts that go beyond technical solutions. Practices that centre indigenous knowledge through consultation and collaboration with indigenous community leaders and knowledge holders. 

Practices that work towards habitable futures and ecological sustainability through local methodologies like soil management, reforestation, climate-resilient agricultural practices, water catchment management, sustainable production, plastic reduction, waste management and more. Practices that also involve local people and centre-localised environmental literacy and education in schools, as part the work on the ground. 

Indigenous African practices have always fostered a more sustainable relationship between people and the land. We, as people of Africa, must emancipate ourselves from the idea that this is ‘backward’ and that we should be aspiring to live like the global north.

Embracing the wisdom of Indigenous knowledge does not mean anti-development, but rather exploring innovative new solutions based on Afrofuturist principles rather than extractive principles; a world defined and measured by the well-being of its people and its land rather than GDP alone. 

In this light we also call on you as our leaders to regulate the impact of big corporations and work in active dialogue with communities and companies to find solutions that put people and our only habitable planet over profit and greed. 

Youth all over the continent have been rallying together to change our reality from one of hopelessness, to a more hopeful, sustainable and  inclusive one. Please  join us in envisioning a future where we move into a just transition under your leadership.

As youth in Africa, we acknowledge the power that you hold. It is time for you to take action to avert the climate crisis, to harness African innovation and indigenous wisdom to go far beyond the solutions developed already. 

We need action that is smart, measurable and based on realistic timelines for goals to address the climate and ecological crisis. We need deep adaptation and mitigation strategies to ensure our future is secured, while we do all we can to decrease the effects of the crisis. 

We need funding for sustainably developed environmental projects, as well as for you, our AU leaders, to put pressure on Western leaders to open channels for loss and damage finance. We need youth in Africa to be put at the forefront of consideration when taking on these actions so that there is a clear understanding of what the world and future will be. 

It is time for a holistic system change. We say to all our African leaders “Don’t Gas Africa”,  leave fossil fuels in the ground, and enable a rapid and just transition to 100% renewable energy.  Please let us know how you intend to ‘leave no African child behind’ and how you intend to secure the future of youth in Africa, in the midst of climate and ecological crisis. We believe that COP27 – on African soil – is a great opportunity to effect the most impactful change any COP has ever had. Please do not waste it. 

We look forward to your response. 

Signed by over 700 youth from 21 African countries including Nigeria, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, Eswatini, Senegal, Somalia, Cameroon, Togo, Angola, Algeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, South Sudan and Morocco. Collaboratively written by African Climate Alliance and supported by 350 Africa, Don’t Gas Africa, #StopEacop, Power Shift Africa and Khantsa Energy 

Namely,

NameSurname
Abdulhameed AbeneloIdakwoji
VanessaNakate
AbigailGuta
AbrahamPhiri
AchiefordMhondera
Alfa BothwellGwatidzo
ALINESS ANGELINAPHIRI
Amanda Ellen NicolaJojo
AnathiManyaba
AndisiweLutshiti
AndrewStanley
Anesu SamanthaChatikobo
ArnoldMumba
AudreySikamale
Audrey FrancescaKamiza
AzeezSalawu
BamukundaHillary
BasetsanaPitso
BlessingsBanda
BONIFACEOKELLO OJAS
BulelwaAdonis
BuumbaMunene
BwalyaBenson
CalvinMataya
CarmenBotes
ChantelleSerithi
CharityNyambe
CharityMkandawire
CharityTegha
ChimKayange
ChimukaChuulu
ChimwemweMzumara
ChisomoMwazozo
ChisomoChawiya
ChizawinjaZozi
ChristineMizinga
Constance TashingaMatipano
ConstantineChawira
DanielBanda
DanielleGrave
DavidMary
DeliciaGovender
DelilahStoloff
DevedineArmstrong
DikelediMoabelo
Duncan PiliraniMkamwalekani
Dylan Peter Siviwevan Wyk
EdgarMutungisa
EliahKausiyo
ElizabethKazeem-Jimoh
EmilyChizaka
EvelynTembo
EvelynTembo
festushachiboola
FREDRICHMALUZA
FridahPhiri
GiftZungaile Sakala
Giftbanda
GloriaMtegha
GloriaAgyare
GraceChilongo
GregoryShave
GuguNonjinge
HajraHussein
HanselMweetwa
HappyMbewe
HappySikaonga
HildaKaonga
HumairaaEssack
IdowuEsuku
IreneNatukunda Kananura
IrfaanMangera
JessVazquez
JoeMapick
JohnMulenga
JonathanMiyaga
JordanSililo
JosephMalambo
JoyMunthali
JUDITHCHANDIA
JulietMwenibanda
JuliusMbigili
JustinTromp
KAGUDDESHAFIK
KamabaleRogers
KamogeloMahlasela
KamvalethuMrubata
KayMurray
KelebogileMosupi
KellsEmmanuel
KhalidKampanje
KholwaniSimelane
LawrenceKumpama
LebogangMohlala
LeenaAmwaalwa
LeratoDube
LeratoNtshong
LikezoLubasi
Linda EChivhere
Linly IsabelBanda
LisakhanyaMathiso
Lu-ZanneMarx
LubindaMundia
LucindaJafthas
LuckiaGaven
LungeloMtwa
LuyandoCheembo
LwiindiHanyoolo
MaïchatouKAMAROU
MalamboKankato
MankekoloLegodi
MarchelinoBrown
MargaretChitsulo
MariSwanepoel
MariamAbdalla Ahmed Tiben
MaureenBakali
MayamikoMdala
Mc DonaldChikusi
Mebo MitchelleMuranganwa
MercyNwachukwu
MiguelIsaac
MilimoSyasulwe
MirriamMoonga
MMELIZONDI
MohiniGovender
MohiniGovender
MoliehiMafantiri
MpaiNkali
MphatsoFinius
MuanoNonge
MUBOTUBBABBI
MufaroMupetesi
MufaroTsorayi
MuhammedJadwat
MusaMaseko
MusondaMukupa
MutebiSharif
MwaiwathuChimulambe
MwangalaMubita
MwayiKabuthu
Mxolisi AlbertNgongoma
NailessBanda
NancyMkunga
NancyHatuyuni
NaomiChunda
NatalieMurape
NelsonKamkwamba
NoluthandoMqadi
NoluthandoShandu
NomsaPhiri
NonhlanhlaNcaweni
NovuyoMadela
NqobileKhuzwayo
NqobileKhuzwayo
NtokozoHlatshwayo
OdyekR. F
OLADEJOAKINNIYI
OtsileNkadimeng
PalesaMokitle
PanasheMusarurwa
PapamaMabotshwa
PatoKelesitse
PatrickMatanda
PempheroChilongo
Peter MissionKolani
PhatsimoDitlhong
PhenyoLewanika
PortiaLujabe
PreciousHuntley
PreciousChabwera
preciousnyondo.
Princess TemwaMukuka
priscillalungu
PumuloMutemwa
RachaelNyirongo
RaphaelChintali
RayhaanahWilliams
RehemaChikwakwa
RiannaElias
Rukia AhmedAbdi
RuthNawakwi
RuthMulenga
RuthNyirenda
RuthNawakwi
SalomeKamwana
SalomeKamwana
SamanthaDzikawanda
SamsonDamiano
SamsonDamiano
SamzyMkango
SandraNamumbya
SaneleTshange
Sarah RobynFarrell
SarahEvans
SarahMsambira
SarahOliver
Sarah TinkhoMithi
SbongimpiloMdabe
SekasiDouglas
Selma NShihepo Nghiitombo
ShamiaElias
ShamsudiinAbdirahman
Shupikai RittaNema
SibabaloNtshele
SibongileChakwawa
SiceloShange
SikutaMubiana
SimeonKalua
SimonMayson
SimplexChingota
SiphokaziPangalele
SiyabongaButhelezi
SiyamthandaSimelela
Spencer TafadzwaMuvezwa
Stuart NkolokosaNkolokosa
Sumbukenikowa
SymonSatiele
Tadala. AKhonje
TadalaMukhuna
TamikaDu Pont
TapiwaRunesu
TapiwaNyangu
TapuwaMotsi
TariweribakumorWoyiama
TebelloRampo
TebohoMakhalanyane
TeganGibaud
TemwaLungu
TendaiManjeru
ThandieChisi
ThandisileFatyela
ThandizoChawinga
ThembisileChipwaila
TimothyMunthali
TOLLOTITUS VANON
TommyThamae
Towera GraceBanda
TshepoSegami
UpilePelusi
VictorMulenga
Waliko VictoriaBowa
WilliamKanyinji
WinnieKaphamtengo
WinnieAchola
WinnieChangwony
WisdomKatola
YashilaGovender
YewoGondwe
YonelaNtammani
YotamCheketa
ZethembeMaseko
ZethuKunene
ZioneZikiel
ZORBARIDINEE-LAAGO
Nathan EdwardSwartz
ToweraNgwira
BulelaniSokaliwe
MutebiSharif
PriscillaJosiah
AustinMandeva
KelebogileLeepile
LindelaniMbulawa
DikelediMoabelo
LindelaniMbulawa
AndisiweNzama
TumeloNhlapo
ConnieVatsha
BashkahHassan
ApheleleMgobo
ThembisaNyawo
MbalenhleMthenjane
MutebiSharif
NokwandaMgwaba
MadaloBanda
BashirHassan
SphesihleNduli
TakondwaSitali
MutebiSharif
CalvinMataya
Dylanvan Wyk
ThembisaNyawo
VincentOuma
CrispusMwemaho
NatashaMcDaid
NomahloziRamohloki
AnnaKotschy
NatashaTshuma
LieslMuller
JessicaO’Mahoney
TinayeMushore
MutebiSharif
DorcasNachibhona
PADREPIOSSEMWOGERERE
RuthNawakwi
MikeSiapegwa
DanielKapitaapa
BavonRawago
LonyangNicholas
IsaacKachala
SylvesterKarima
Sarah TinkhoMithi
LonelyTatila
AlexHamisi
AngelaOminde
BensonMkandawire
DianaSinyinda
ElizabethNjoroge
MacheDolores
MORISOGWAL
LewisItenya
DanielOludare
Constance TashingaMatipano
CalvinMataya
AgabaBrenda
AndreasTuyoleni
AgabaBrenda
JonathanKombe
Benard KibetRotich
AgreyWapamesa
SimonKagucia
BrunoOkiya
Akinyemi AkinbodundeFranklin
TrinahSharom
NAGGAYIRACHEAL
AyandaNtshinga
RitaChinyama
Muqtar HersiMohamed
RaelNyakundi
LucyKihohia
MilcahChepkemoi
KipngetichKoech
BikuBrenda
NkwangaArafat
JoylineCheptoo
AchiefordMhondera
ChimKayange
MisuseraSembajjwe
FrancisOdoki odyeng
ChurchilAjunyia
LordNuwagaba
TrinahSharom
LukeWylde
MaryjaneChukelu
DinaOdhiambo
TamikaDu Pont
TheresaBanda
KarynGwarazimba
ElwinAyebare
MasimangeMkhosana
NatashaSimma
IshmaelAmini
TheresaBanda
TOLLOTITUS VANON
Basetsana HappyPitso
KasaineMackallah
BonifaceOJAS
Shupikai RittaNema
MwangalaMulenga
AndisiweLutshiti
AyandaNtshinga
AndisiweLutshiti
NatashaSiamalube
NoahBanda
DianaJarumi
LaurenJacobs
MmapulaLesailane
GeorginaJawali
ZenThusi
RaidonNaidoo
Abdoul-MansourOURO-DAMI
PascalWambua
WaandaOdhiambo
VictoriaChilemba
Seraphine SantanaOjiambo
NqobizithaNyakunu
MusalilwaMbao
AseliKunda
SafirahNamwinga
Elizabeth aitiyaSabi
BarakaMachumu
Martinonyango
StellaKariba
Mary ChineduOchi
RUKUNDOWILBER
Asia KnowledgeChimugunde
Constance TashingaMatipano
WASHINGTONMBOYA
LeioPaxi
JamesRithp
ChidiebereEkwedike
GideonMumba
SalineAkoth
JamesNjobvu
FridahPhiri
AndreasTuyoleni
ElizabethMwende
ThokozaniGeviyala
MartinChola
JoanKibabu
EsnartSikazindu
Idai AgathaDume
KalunduMaurice
JohnKimba
LuyandoSikanwe
LandoLeonce
ChristianNding’wa
BoydHangoma
EnomfonAkpan
ChristabelOgbonna
ThapeloMaringa
GualfoutDounia
Ernestbino
AlfredAsua Kanyia
PrincessNyirenda
stephanienyapela
DianaJarumi
KachigoZulu
CholaEmeldah
FebronneAchieng
LebohangLeuta
JoyKatwesige
TamikaDu Pont
ChristineLangenhoven
SymonSatiele
BoloPlacide
ChisoniBanda
NoahBanda
RuthOdoyo
TabithaAudu
Abdullahi BnMUHAMMAD
MajonaJabesi Mnjuzi
Lornawaititu
ThresaBwalya
SamsonDamiano
Constance TashingaMatipano
ElwinAyebare
PalesaMatjekane
Nelson JosephKissanga
TanakaMandizvidza
MorianeNchabeleng
Nkhululekho MwapeSiwela
TapiwanaisheMashingaidze
ThembiYoti
IsaacKachala
NatashaWaka
PiusOKO
IbrahimHassan
RufaroShamuyarira
HasheemMsoma
NatashaLukwesa
FelixOnyango
GRACESHAMAZUBAULA
EstherKimonge
SibonginkosiMushapaidze
JolaoluOketoye
TrinaSamuel
NancyAyieye
JohnsonOng’any
Kayla MuyasaniMoonga
SamuelNjuguna
DeanZwau
TatendaDlali
DavidOluwaseyi
AmukelaniMandlazi
JacintaMbesha
MaryWang’ang’a
AfiaNkrumah
RuthNkhoma
StellaKariba
HenryMsoni
EmmyDaniel Ojara
CarmenBotes
NAGGAYIRACHEAL
TRINAHSHAROM
TOLLOTITUS VANON
MenziMthombeni
DianaJarumi
MelissaAmondi
MutebiSharif
NicodemusMwimba
AnnaHamweene
FranciscaSitali
MaryNgaruiya
BettyKagendo
FRANKLINEOTWEKA
JudeAmarikwa
Tara Nairvan Ryneveld
EmmanuelChilongo
MathewsMulenga
SiphiweHaaninga
MubianaMate
MalcolmOdhiambo
LilianGithinji
RuthAyantoye
AulynMakoni
AnnaHamweene
BrianOtiego
DanielImpw
EstherKaunda
VincentOuma
GideonMumba
ClaraOgaranya
GodfreyJidiga
FelixAtamba
DavisonKafula
MyriamMilabyo
besigyebright
DanielNjaidi
MpapwaSaviour
RuthNawakwi
BusingeJulius
ElizabethEdward
MaryMaina
RobertNgubulu
DanielBanda
MilcahChepkemoi
IlekeCalvin
QueendalineOkoli
MagaiwaElijah Bosco
RaidonNaidoo
JOHNSONKILASI
SimonKagucia
KaraboMaja
ThapeloMaringa
AGABABRENDA
BAMUJJEBRIAN
AGABABRENDA
BRIANBAMUJJE
AyabulelaMomoti
TamzynSmith
PaulJere
NaggayiRacheal
SharomTrinah
HasheemMsoma
SyliviaOpieba
DianaJarumi
SyliviaOpieba
LornaPretorius
EmmanuelChilongo
SharonSitati
SamsonDamiano
IliyasaAlie
HasheemMsoma
IsaacKachala
MutebiSharif
VincentOuma
ChipiliroSamuel
ChamakhMsoma
IsaacKachala
Asia KnowledgeChimugunde
SamsonDamiano
SengritheyPich
FentseMalatji
MwicheKaona
Andreas PanduleniTuyoleni
EstherMate
DianaJarumi
KasakaWezi
ChilekwaO’Brien
Ssemanda IbraWasswa
NatashaWaka
NsungweMulendema
LesargeSimpanoi
MyriamMilabyo
JeremiahMafunda
AnnaHamweene
GideonMumba
NizaChindalo Nawa
Sarah TinkhoMithi
NoahBanda
WilsonSimwanza
AmyHutton
EricGowero
PezoNdala
JosephZulu
ValerieAura
KarenKazembe
FayeWilliams
NzebaKazadi
GeraldineKyazze
NosiphoVezi
AyiekoDiana
JustusLagat
MbongeniTembe
JonathanMiyaga
TansleyTembo
EstherTembo
TanatsiwaDambuza
KizonzoloMedi
StephenMaciko
SinovuyoLimba
Nuru SaadunAhmed
LikandoSimunji
RejoiceMutefura
NAGGAYIRACHEAL
JoyKivatu
AgabaBrenda
PkirorKedii
HamzaKipkemoi
GibsonZulu
SengritheyPich
StephenLakey
SylviaChivunda
MarcelJohn
ChantyMugoba
Teddy JoakimMapande
AbdulShaweji
AbdulShaweji
VeronicaNyirongo
DalisoNguni
Chimwemwe T. CChiluba
LanoinNhawu
ZuhuraJuma
MayamikoZulu
ThihangwiRamutsindela
AnitaAntonio
MwangalaMundanya
BenjaminSichamba
SimakabaNyanga
SizweNdwandwe
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UlomaChukwunonye
JustineBeatus
JamesEkuam
HuriahNjobvu
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AYODEJIOLORUNFEMI
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Dylan MunasheDzenga
Wayne TatendaDirwayi
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Timothy JonathanBabbage
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El NaiJames
DavidMadimilo
SergeBandah
CynthiaKatuka
KhathutsheloMashao
RobbinsonMfula
Jean DenisDjamba
AyandaMilanzi
AmberJulius
InamMaya
JosephBaker
AmyMoyi
DidiwaLoy esther
MwezeMugisho
HollinsSyalubalo
GeorgeMulima
LYDIASOSPETER
ELIJAHTIPANGO
HussnaWaka
RebeccaOluwaponmile
TendaiMugabe
KingfredSimwinga
AndisiweLutshiti
KarunaVeerapen- goinden
HenryAgu
TemitopeAdelola
MauroDistinto
AshlinEllan
NoziphoMthembu
BeverlySaisi
SakhileDube
LaureenMaina
KelaiPeter
mathanmkonda
Isaac MbalaJulius
GraceKaputula
OluwafemiAdeshina
ChikondiNanthambwe
SsebandekeJulius
ClaraKangwa
EmmaNawakwi
BradleyOnverwacht
DastanProtase
LughanoMwangwewo
ObertManduku
ChristopherTembo
NeversNkoloma
Christmas DabangRut
Christmas DabangRut
AliUsman
Munyaradzi KimManyame
PersieMwaura
MutebiSharif
IwangaYasin
JihaneChentoufi
HasheemMsoma
LYDIASOSPETER
WilliamNgonyo
DanielMsenye
PaulJere
NanaTeillard
Martha NdahambelelaShityeni
Dennis lLowaso
AndisiweLutshiti
EddahMwihaki
NadmaAboubakary
NevilleOchieng
OyooOwere
MayamikoZulu
NevileOchieng
FelixKyalo
ELTONDIURA
MbogoMary
ZahraNur
Jeffrey FhumulaniMajuta
VictorOtieno
GillianKeter

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Open Letter to the African Union

The Context In the lead up to COP27, the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Egypt in November, over 700 youth from