The South African young people are gathering virtually, on a Summit co-hosted by the South African Youth Centre for Climate Change (SAYCCC), and African Climate Alliance (ACA), to deliberate on issues concerning their future, in the face of climate and health crisis. 

The coronavirus pandemic should not be looked at separately from the climate crisis, and the interests of the youth and young people must still be heard. What the world faces today is indefinitely leaving long-lasting effects for future generations. Climate change conditions play a significant role in worsening the mortality of people that are infected by opportunistic diseases. It is for this reason that the climate action plans must not be paused.

We are indeed facing a double crisis, but to address one over another would be a two-step backward to what we have worked on as a nation. It is stated in the National Climate Change Response White Paper that health is one of the sectors that need special attention for the immediate future while working on ensuring that our communities are resilient, especially the most vulnerable in our communities, including women, youth, and children. 

This is a time for us as young people to come together as a strong voice, to work on building our future, it is in our hands. To tackle the climate crisis is a matter of justice not only for human species but all the natural systems and biodiversity. It is a matter of sustainability. In this context, the sustainable development goals, particularly goal 3 – good health and well-being; 6 – clean water and sanitation; 10 – reduced inequalities; 11 – sustainable communities; and 13 – climate action, are some of the factors that will shape the ways in which we will approach our deliberations at the virtual youth summit, with different topics that are already set for discussions. 

It is also important to note that while unemployment in South Africa is on the rise, reports from various business institutions have indicated that climate change is costing South African businesses billions of Rands each year. The covid-19 pandemic has made matters worse.

The Youth Summit is a place for young people across the country to come together and address these challenges. The future is in our hands. 

Khulekani Magwaza

SAYCCC Director.