Synopsis of the African Conference of Youth (ACOY) on Climate Change and United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

28th September – 01st October 2017,

Kampala, Uganda

Theme: “The Road to 2030; African Youth leading Climate Action for Sustainable Development”.



In 2005, during the Conference of Parties (COP11) to the United Nations Framework Convention on climate change (UNFCCC) in Montreal (Canada), young people started to get organized at UNFCCC COP. As a result, the concept of International Youth Climate Movement was first developed and it became a movement of youth NGOs and individuals represented by YOUNGO during the UNFCCC processes as the official youth constituency.


Starting in COP 11/CMP 1, youth have organized preparatory meetings called “Conferences of Youth (COY)”. The purpose of the COY is to help build capacity of the youth to participate in the UNFCCC negotiation processes in order to convey the youth’s voice during the COP negotiations. The COY takes place in the country that hosts COP a week before the COP in line with the theme of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCCC. This arrangement however, excluded youth who could not travel to the country hosting the COP from participating.


The purpose of ACOY is to create a critical mass of youth who can enhance awareness of youth on the adverse impacts of climate change on their respective countries, while preparing them to participate in various forms of intervention to mitigate or adapt accordingly. The youth in Africa form a big portion of their respective national population and most of them are either underemployed or unemployed. Due to rampant unemployment they resort irrational and wasteful exploitation of natural resources as source survival and livelihood. In their quest, they contribute to environmental degradation such as deforestation, soil exhaustion, wetland destruction and desertification to name but a few.

The regional ACOY will serve as a platform for bringing the African youth together and prepare them to participate in climate change processes at national and international levels while addressing unemployment challenges and poverty. They will also establish avenues for joining the global processes in contributing to the realisation of the 17 sustainable development goals. The focus of the youth conference is to enhance capacity of the youth to tackle the adverse effects of climate change and preserve environment for sustainable development.


According to YOUNGO COY Policy, a local COY shall be organized at a country or regional level. At a regional level, it shall be organized by and for the youth of an entire region. Therefore, for the African region, YOUTH GO-GREEN UGANDA in collaboration with other African Youth Organizations and the Ministry of Water and Environment of Uganda, are organising “The African Conference of Youth (ACOY) on Climate Change & UN-SDGs” to be held in Uganda from 24th – 27th August, 2017 at Kampala Serena Hotel.


Nomination of Uganda as the host of ACOY

Uganda’s hosting opportunity was as a result of the joint voice of the African youth representatives at COP22 in Marrakech, Morocco last year 2016 and the need to localize and popularize COYs at a regional level. Based on Uganda\s leadership role and effective participation during the conference, Uganda was unanimously elected to host the first African Conference of Youth.


The theme of the Conference is; “The Road to 2030; African Youth leading Climate Action for Sustainable Development”.



The African Union set a master plan for Africa’s development for the next 50 years; “Agenda 2063, The Africa We Want”. The Union acknowledges that Africa’s “young bulge” is one of the opportunities to be harnessed as it works towards a peaceful and more prosperous Africa over the next 50 years. Africa lacks the financial resources, technical capacity and global political clout to drive change on its own. It will require careful diplomacy and networking from today’s political leaders and the youth of today and tomorrow.



In the current setup of climate change action and negotiations, many African countries including Uganda have not been able to include a reasonable number of youth in their climate change official country delegations for various reasons. While young people around the world are among those left behind, they tend to be among the first to embrace new ideas and innovations and they remain open to the idea of global solutions to global problems.



Africa remains the youngest continent in the world, with over 70% of its population under the age of 30yrs. Young people are incredible resources towards providing solutions to the adverse effects of climate change and achieving the UN-SDGs. Youth in Africa have a big stake on the SDGs and if left out, the journey for achieving the Global Goals will be longer than expected. The African Conference of Youth (ACOY) to be hosted by the Government of Uganda offers a unique opportunity to showcase Uganda’s commitment to combating climate change and her ability to lead Africa in climate negotiations especially given Uganda’s selection at COP22 by all African youth representatives to be the host country of the first ever Conference of Youth (COY) on the African continent. This conference is therefore timely, unique, and a necessary gesture to advance Africa’s common voice at a Global level on climate action and UNSDGs implementation efforts.


Objectives of the ACOY

The overall objective of the ACOY To bring together African Youth in a single space of discussion on challenges, opportunities and prospects in advancing solutions to climate change and SDGs as well as increase the continent’s visibility at the Conference of Parties (COPs) and all international negotiations on climate change and SDGs.


Specific Objectives of ACOY on Climate Change and UN SDGs

  1. To bring together the African youth to share and discuss issues that affect them within the climate change and Sustainable Development Goals framework
  2. To broaden youth awareness on climate change and the linkage with Sustainable Development Goals
  3. To aggregate and document African youth common position on climate change and UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a complementary contribution of African governments’ submission during the upcoming COP23 and the Global Conference of Youth (COY13) in Bonn, Germany.
  4. To bring into the Global agenda the mainstreaming of youth voice on climate change and SDGs.
  5. To emphasize to the African governments the need to involve the youth fraternity in the realisation of the Nationally Determined Commitments (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement (PA) while aligning them to SDGs.
  6. To create mass awareness of UN-Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030 through a Marathon Relay highlighting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
  7. To Launch the “Presidential Environmental Youth Awards (PEYA)”.


ACOY Participants

The ACOY will attract 500 participants, 300 delegates will be female and 200 males. 300 will be Ugandan nationals and 200 International participants of which these will include;  Ministers of Youth and Environment·  Representatives from African Youth Commission·  UN Youth delegates·  National Youth Councils·  Representatives from the Permanent Missions of African Union Member States·  Representatives from the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC)·  YOUNGO- UNFCCC youth constituency Focal points for Global North and Global south·  Youth representatives from CSOs·  Government officials, Development partners and Members of Parliament·  Academia, Religious institutions, Private sector and Media.·  Each African Community representatives to the conference will be represented by two· representatives’onstitute a Female and Male.


Breakdown of Conference Activities

  1. Pre conference youth forum on the eve of ACOY, this will attract all national youth
  2. Discussions on climate change issues, tree planting, press conference and TV talk shows
  3. A Ministerial Roundtable will be held on the national reviews of progress on youth development and youth engagement in the context of the “2063 Africa We Want Agenda” highlighting the PAN- African Youth proposed AU High-level segment on Youth.
  4. Plenary sessions will feature SDGs and Youth Climate advocates, including You Tubers social media activists. The objective is to leverage the influence and regional outreach to inspire concrete actions to promote climate solutions and implementation of SDGs in Africa and beyond.
  5. Climate Change breakaway sessions to discuss the possible mitigation and adaption actions for African youth towards climate change interventions.
  6. Exhibitions throughout the ACOY “Nothing without us” The Africa we want Dialogue (AU Delegates, Civil Society) Presentation and discussion on Climate Change Opportunities for Youth in Africa (Government, UNDP, UNEP)
  7. Side event discussions on the relationship between African agenda 2063 and SDGs 2030, the role of African youth in making the Global SDGs a reality.
  8. Touring places around Kampala and the cultural night at Ndere centre to show case Uganda’s Cultural diversity to other countries.
  9. UN Sustainable Development Goals Run/Relay.


Facilitators of the conference

The 2017 African Conference of Youth on Climate Change and UN SDGs will draw facilitators from;-

  1. Climate Change Department of the Ugandan Ministry of Water and Environment,
  2. Other government officials
  3. Thematic areas coordinators from Uganda
  4. Representatives from African Governments
  5. Youth Organizations and networks
  6. African Union Commission and AU Member States
  7. UN Agencies
  8. Civil society organizations,
  9. Private sector
  10. Development partners working in Africa and
  11. Youth Go Green Uganda


The ACOY will provide the youth with Best practices in Climate change adaptation and mitigation actions opportunities to share their achievements with other stakeholders across Africa.


Opening and closing of the Youth Conference 

The conference will be opened by the Speaker to the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda, Right Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga.

The closure of the conference will be Officiated by H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, The President of the Republic of Uganda.


UN Sustainable Development Goals Run/Relay

The three days of ACOY will be crowned by the UN-SDGs Run. As a pledge by the United Nations that “No one will be left behind” the main purpose of this marathon is to create awareness towards the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals. The UN-SDGs Run will be a “17Kms Relay” signifying a one kilometer distance for each of the 17 SDGs. The different organizations and individuals making interventions in each SDG will run for 1km and then hand over the button to the 2nd, and the cycle continues up to the 17th SDG. However, individuals will be free to run for all the 17kms and SDGs, but, each SDG will have a Chief Runner.



The “Presidential Environmental Youth Awards (PEYA)”will be launched during the closing Ceremony. Youth who have been involved in innovative interventions that address adverse effects of climate change in Uganda and Africa will be carefully selected by a panel of eminent environmentalists and will be awarded. All African Youth will be free to vote on line and to be voted for. They must fall within the UN and AU definition of a youth.


Summaries of key challenges to be addressed

  1. Inadequate and inconsistent participation of the youth in the national and global climate change processes and environmental protection
  2. Youth Unemployment and poverty
  3. Limited alternative livelihood opportunities
  4. Limited exposure, linkages and synergies with relevant institutions (networking)
  5. Weak regional collaboration and governance structure and efforts
  6. Lack of platform for mobilising, managing and disseminating relevant information
  7. Limited knowledge on climate change and inadequate negotiation skills
  8. Inadequate funding for climate change activities/programmes




Outcomes of the ACOY

  1. Youth who may are not able to make it to the COP23 in Bonn Germany will be provided a platform to have their views heard and integrated into a communiqué to the African Heads of States and AMCEN meetings for further management.
  2. A communiqué containing climate change message of the Youth to the global climate change processes will be developed and submitted to AU Secretariat for consideration, it may inform the African position paper to be delivered during COP23 in Bonn.
  3. Paris Agreement and UN Sustainable Development Goals will be popularised.
  4. Selected African Youth innovators/entrepreneurs in climate change adaptation and mitigation will be awarded.
  5. Presidential Environmental Youth Awards (PEYA) launched.
  6. A roadmap to guide the future ACOY to be developed and shared amongst all parties.


Organisation of the Conference

Ministry of Water and Environment will be the lead Agency in organising the Conference, in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and the Youth Go-Green.

National Organising Committee will be formed and will meet weekly in the Ministry Headquarters. Other relevant Government Ministries, Development Partners, UN Agencies and NGOs may be included in the NOC, each with defined responsibilities. Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water and Environment will Chair the weekly NOC meetings. The NOC will be responsible for managing the whole conference process, and will produce overall programme consisting of intended activities.


Funding of the conference

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of water will be responsible for mobilisation, management and accountability for all the funds of the conference. Funds will be mobilised from the government through the Ministry’s budgetary process. Other funds may come from Development Partners, UN Agencies, NGOs and Private sector institutions. The National Organising Committee (NOC) will formulate a budget that will serve as a basis for mobilisation of funds.


Expectations from Uganda Government


In terms of hospitality Uganda as a host will provide Hotel Accommodation and meals for all the participants during the Conference. Uganda Government will also provide pick up transport from and to the Airport, including internal transportation related to the Conference. All invited participants will cater for their Air tickets.



At the end of the conference both activity based and financial reports will be produced for accountability and record purposes.



Permanent Secretary

Ministry of Water and Environment

Kampala, Uganda