Dear Heads of State and Government,

Our world stands at a pivotal point in history - the choices we make now will permanently shape our future. We dare to dream of creating an economy and civilisation based on sustainability, relationship, equality, freedom and innovation.

As you prepare to meet in Egypt, to participate in an ‘African COP’, as activists and church leaders in the Renew Our World and Abundant Africa movements, we call on you to:

1. Rebuild trust with climate-vulnerable nations by ensuring that there is full delivery of the promised $100 billion annually, including 50% for adaptation

2. Strengthen transparency and accountability for climate finance

3. Invest in good green jobs for youth, including through climate finance

4. Legalise the status of climate refugees - giving them access to healthcare, work, and educational rights. 

Firstly, why rebuild trust with climate-vulnerable nations by ensuring that there is full delivery of the promised $100 billion annually, including 50% for adaptation?

In 2009, leaders of wealthy nations promised to deliver $100 billion a year from 2020-25 for climate-vulnerable countries and communities to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Sadly this promise has still not been met, and much of the funding so far has come as loans, adding to national debts. This is not sustainable and instead threatens the viable futures of so many youths, especially Africans. 

As wealthy nations have not yet delivered the promised support for frontline communities to adapt to the climate crisis, this meeting in Egypt is an opportunity to rebuild trust on climate finance. It’s time for wealthy nations to deliver.

The costs of the climate crisis are being pushed onto the communities that did the least to cause it and have the fewest resources to respond to it. Half of the world’s population is already highly vulnerable to the climate crisis, and they are disproportionately people living in poverty in low-income countries. The most climate-vulnerable nations are being forced to divert money away from essential public services, such as healthcare and schooling, to mitigate, adapt and protect themselves against climate impacts. The Africa we want to live in and live alongside provides for its young people and creates a platform for them to innovate. However, this cannot be achieved if African and other nations constantly have to divert resources away from public services. Delivering on the $100bn is key to leveraging the scale of finance needed for communities to respond to the climate crisis.

Secondly, why strengthen transparency and accountability for climate finance?

Misuse of climate finance can take place in different forms, such as untracked spending, investing in unsustainable or ineffective projects, overspending or underspending, and in the most extreme case, corruption. Enhancing transparency and accountability can address several of the specific risks that particularly affect climate finance.

It is possible to ensure climate finance is transparent and accountable to the communities that need it the most. More than half of African citizens believe that, despite the fear of retaliation, ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption. The following are some key principles that can enable climate finance to benefit those who need the finance the most:

Ensure transparency and accountability through all processes
All processes - from financing, designing, to delivering climate programmes - should be transparent and accountable to stakeholders at all levels. For example, key documents and reasons for decisions should be made publicly available, meetings should be opened to observing civil society organisations and representatives of engaged communities, and finance - especially local adaptation finance - should be tracked and reported.

Enhance accessibility and devolve decision making to the lowest appropriate level
Local governments and communities should be given access and decision-making power over how different climate actions are prioritised, designed and implemented. They should also decide on how progress is monitored and success is evaluated. This will require simplifying the funding approval process as it is often too complicated for local entities to apply for funding. This will also require more climate finance allocated through models of decentralised and community-led climate funds.

Strengthen local communities’ ownership and participation when implementing climate projects
Communities should be encouraged to engage in project implementation as much as possible. This could be done by allocating ownership rights such that communities partly “own” and can enjoy immediate benefits from the projects. This could also be done by establishing systems for communities to monitor the projects’ action-on-the-ground, such as forest management monitoring, and administrative tasks such as finance tracking.

Thirdly, why invest in good green jobs for youth, including through climate finance:

Creating dignified green employment for young people through innovation is one of the key themes emerging from the report ‘Abundant Africa: our decade to shape the African century’, co-published by 16 organisations in 2021. This report recognises that investing in young Africans could be the fuel that creates a new green economy. 

We ask that COP supports the development of youth green jobs in Africa. According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), jobs are green when they help reduce negative environmental impact and ultimately lead to environmentally, economically and socially sustainable enterprises and economies. More precisely, green jobs are decent jobs that:

1. Reduce consumption of energy and raw materials

2. Limit greenhouse gas emissions

3. Minimise waste and pollution

4. Protect and restore ecosystems

There is an urgent need to invest funding in youth green jobs skills training, upskilling, incubation, apprenticeship support, startups and accelerators in Africa. Climate finance can play a role in this; it should be given primarily as grants, not loans, which can be invested by communities into good green jobs for young people.  We ask that the Commonwealth supports research that informs the development of Africa-wide frameworks for the development of a youth green economy.

Fourthly, why legalise the status of climate refugees - giving them access to healthcare, work, and educational rights?

The UN International Organization for Migration has cited estimates of as many as 1 billion environmental migrants in the next 30 years, while more recent projections point to 1.2 billion by 2050, and 1.4 billion by 2060. After 2050, that figure is expected to soar as the world heats further and the global population rises to its predicted peak in the mid 2060s.

This crisis is seen most acutely in Latin America where millions of Venezuelans have fled their home country. As of March 2021, an estimated 1.7 million people from Venezuela were based in Colombia— approximately 32 % of all Venezuelan migrants in Latin America. Recognizing that properly managed migration is a development opportunity, since 2015 Colombia has remained committed to exemplary open policies for the social and economic integration of Venezuelan migrants. 

These efforts include: (i) issuing work, transit, and stay permits; (ii) extending access to health, education, and social programs and housing subsidies; (iii) investing to benefit both host and migrant communities; and (iv) protecting vulnerable populations through programs to reunify families, protect children, and prevent human trafficking.

Renew Our World therefore calls upon all countries attending COP to take the same approach and legalise the status of climate refugees - giving them access to healthcare, work, and educational rights.

Our recommendations:

Delivering the promised climate finance is key to supporting and building trust with the communities that are paying the highest costs but did the least to cause the climate crisis.

Members of COP should use their influence to:

1. Rebuild trust with climate-vulnerable nations by ensuring that there is full delivery of the promised $100 billion annually, including 50% for adaptation

2. Strengthen transparency and accountability for climate finance

3. Invest in good green jobs for youth, including through climate finance

4. Legalise the status of climate refugees - giving them access to healthcare, work, and educational rights.

We are already seeing climate solutions innovated by frontline communities. Wealthy countries have the opportunity to play a vital role in funding locally-led initiatives, making sure climate finance reaches the communities most affected by climate change. 

We submit these calls to you reflecting a keen and ready ability amongst young people to work with leaders to bless the wider world.

God bless you all.

Will you sign?

The 27th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 27) to the UNFCCC will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. COP 27 will take place from 6-18 November 2022. Renew Our World and Abundant Africa climate activists are presenting their advocacy letter to the heads of State attending.

Please sign this letter to add your voice to the critical climate finance, green jobs and climate refugee asks of our letter.

Sign our COP27 Advocacy letter!

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