Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan Al Nahyan, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces the health package for African youth on Saturday at COP28 in Dubai

Dubai: The UAE has announced a new $220 million funding package for African youth as COP28 hosted Youth, Children, Skills and Education Day. The fund will help drive better health outcomes for the African youth.

Sheikh Shakhboot bin Nahyan Al Nahyan, Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced the health package for African youth on Saturday at COP28 in Dubai under the directives of the President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Sheikh Shakhboot said the UAE recognises that it has never been more urgent to invest in the health of young people in Africa to ensure that they have the opportunity to thrive. “When health improves, life improves,” he said.

“Working together with countries, governments, the UAE’s investment will help build a stronger and more climate-resilient health system [for] children in Africa, support access to essential care and ensure no communities are left behind. By investing in youth we can unlock the potential of millions of young people across Africa and ensure a brighter tomorrow. By providing these essential building blocks — health education and economic opportunities — we are ensuring that they will and can build the future,” he added.

Why funding matters to youth

In September, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted the ‘General Comment No. 26 (2023) on Children’s Rights and the Environment with a Special Focus on Climate Change’. This landmark pronouncement acknowledged the negative impact of climate change on all child rights, re-emphasising the right that every child has to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

However, despite their greater vulnerability to climate change, just 2.4 per cent of climate finance from key multilateral funds is child responsive.

Flagship Youth Day

COP28’s flagship youth day hosted the first-ever Youth Stocktake, bringing together thousands of young people from across the globe under the banner of climate action.

COP28 President Dr Sultan Al Jaber said: “This COP is working to build a global legacy and a better future for youth and children. This is a turnaround COP that will ensure full inclusivity is at the heart of the climate process.”

The Day, which the COP28 Presidency said, showed its commitment to putting young people at the centre of climate diplomacy, finished with a graduation ceremony for the first-of-its-kind Youth Climate Delegates Programme.

Around one billion children are currently at extreme high risk from the impacts of climate change and many young people are already leading climate action all over the world.

However, young people still have limited input into climate policymaking. Acknowledging the value and necessity of meaningful youth inclusion in the COP process, COP28’s Youth, Children, Skills and Education Day brought together young leaders to discuss central youth policy proposals for COP28 and to formulate a 2023 Global Youth Statement.

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Youth Stocktake

The Day saw the Dubai Youth Climate Dialogue and the first-ever Youth Stocktake Launch event. Attended by Parties, young leaders, and key youth stakeholders, it marked the finale of the COP mandated youth-led dialogue forum to discuss the central youth policy proposals for COP28 and the 2023 Global Youth Statement.

The Youth Stocktake, led by YOUNGO (the Children and Youth Constituency of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) was supported by Shamma Al Mazrui, UAE Minister of Community Development and the Youth Climate Champion (YCC).

The Youth Stocktake represents the first extensive research analysis of youth inclusion in the UN’s climate body, UNFCCC, and youth policy outcomes. It offers a comprehensive analysis of youth inclusion, engagement, best practices, and strategies for amplifying youth participation in decision-making.

Reflecting on the day, Al Mazrui said: “At this COP, we have witnessed unprecedented initiatives fostering children and youth inclusion. With 110 dedicated delegates on the ground, our youth have not only made a significant impact through numerous speaking engagements and negotiations but have also effectively represented their communities. Today, and all the

activity that has led to it, is focused on catalysing transformative change that will stand as a lasting legacy for future COPs.”

Throughout 2023, the COP28 Presidency also called for strong action to improve global climate education, ensuring that future generations are equipped with the skills they need to unlock the opportunity of a Just Transition.

More Greening Education partners

During Youth, Children, Skills and Education Day, 38 countries agreed to sign the UNESCO Greening Education Partnership Declaration, committing to incorporate climate education into their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs).

Education and future skills were a key focal point throughout the day, with a series of events designed to help young people unlock future career opportunities.

A total of 50 young people joined the Marketplace of the Future, a speed-dating-style event that sought to connect young delegates with access to funding, mentorship and job opportunities.

Around 1,000 young people also attended a Green Skills Fair, which connected

participants with potential employment opportunities or funding and offered an opportunity for networking with potential employers and leading climate experts.

Delegates graduate

Youth, Children, Skills and Education Day closed with a graduation ceremony for the

COP28 Youth Climate Delegates Programme, which saw 110 young people from all over the world come together to celebrate their participation in the programme. The Youth Climate

Delegates Programme represents the largest initiative to-date to expand youth participation in the COP process and had a special focus on delegates from Least Developed Countries, Small Island Developing States, Indigenous Peoples, and other minority groups.

The young delegates who took part were equipped with full funding to participate, establishing a pioneering new model for youth inclusion in the COP process.

COP28’s Youth, Children, Skills and Education Day represented a critical moment to engage youth in climate policymaking, ensuring the meaningful inclusion of children, young people and other marginalised groups in the process of climate policymaking.

Recognising the critical role of children and young people in global climate action and peace-building, the COP28 Presidency said it is committed to ensuring the meaningful engagement of young people and other marginalised groups in the COP process. As a country with a young population, the UAE has long emphasised the importance of youth in leadership positions, demonstrated by the appointment of Shamma Al Mazrui as the YCC, who was the youngest minister in the world when she first stepped into the role in 2016.