Charting a fair future: Youth and the dynamics of climate finance

By Karishma Ansaram, Climate Champions' Finance Youth Fellow | December 7, 2023

The intersectionality of youth and climate finance has emerged as a crucial point. As we navigate the complexities of climate finance, it becomes evident that the decisions made in funding and investment have far-reaching consequences. A fair future demands not only financial commitments but also strategic and inclusive approaches that consider the needs of the present and future alike.

By 2030, the global population of youth is projected to reach 1.9 billion and so will the cost and wrath of climate change that this group will have to endure as enumerated by statistics from IPCC.  One of the driving forces behind the push for intergenerational equity is the active participation of youth. The younger generations are not merely beneficiaries of our decisions but active stakeholders in shaping the policies and practices that will determine their future. In 2021, the Youth Climate Summit showcased over 300 global projects led by young people, demonstrating the potential for innovative solutions to contribute to climate resilience and sustainability. Recognizing the agency of youth in climate finance is paramount for creating a fair and sustainable future. Their innovative ideas, passion, and commitment to environmental stewardship can reshape the narrative and drive meaningful change.

Achieving intergenerational equity in the realm of climate finance requires striking a delicate balance between immediate needs and long-term sustainability. It necessitates a shift in mindset from short-term gains to enduring solutions. Laudable examples include The Small Grants Programme, funded by the GEF, which has supported over 3,000 youth-led projects in more than 120 countries, addressing local environmental challenges and contributing to broader climate goals. Likewise, the High-Level Champions’ Regional Platforms for Climate Projects initiative could be another opportunity for entrepreneurs to leverage.

Policymakers, businesses, and communities must collaborate to develop strategies that prioritize both environmental preservation and equitable resource allocation. The forthcoming report on ‘Availability of Climate Finance for Youth’ by YOUNGO and The Commonwealth highlights the skewed funding instruments of grants mainly towards capacity building and communications. Financial instruments targeted for young entrepreneurs remain still unexplored and underutilized. Similarly, the CERI report analyzed Multilateral Climate Funds between 2007 and 2023, and concluded that existing models have failed to provide for young people, amounting to only 2.4 percent of their funding considering youth. The focus should be on reaching and assisting the children who are most vulnerable and at high risk due to climate impacts.

Let’s not forget the growing debt burden on the future generation. Accumulating excessive debt without a clear plan for repayment can burden future generations with financial constraints and limit their ability to address their own needs. Already, more than 80 percent of the debt burden lies with emerging economies. Responsible fiscal policies involve balancing current needs with the imperative to avoid imposing undue financial burdens on future generations, promoting a fair distribution of financial resources over time. Initiatives such as the Sustainable Debt Coalition and Task Force on Sustainability-Linked Sovereign Financing for Nature and Climate could help bridge this gap and ensure that the future generations do not have to bear the costs of climate change.

In parallel, we recognize the momentum in the Youth and Climate Education uprising from COP28. There is a need to mainstream environmental education and awareness across curricula to equip young people with the tools and skills they need today, for the jobs and businesses of the future green economy we want.

Charting a fair future that upholds youth inclusion and engagement within the dynamics of climate finance is an intricate but essential task. It calls for a collective commitment to making responsible choices today for the benefit of generations to come. From nurturing entrepreneurship to fostering education and advocacy, these opportunities empower young individuals to be key players in the global fight against climate change. As we look ahead, it is crucial to recognize and leverage the potential of the younger generation, ensuring that their ideas, energy, and dedication are harnessed to create a sustainable and resilient future for all.


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