A Young Entrepreneur's Perspective on Meaningful Youth Engagement in Climate Action Policy Planning
Youth Co:Lab alumna Afruza Tanzi, the Co-Founder of a Social Enterprise Protibha, was a youth panellist at the 5th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5). In this blog, she shares her experience at LCD5, learnings on meaningful youth engagement in climate actionand her passion for advocating for rural women.
"This conference has raised my expectations on how youth should be meaningfully engaged in planning for healthcare, gender equality and climate action. I now believe that being a part of the Doha Plan of Action is both my right to shape my future and my responsibility to contribute to it." - Afruza Tanzi, Co-Founder of Protibha.
I was excited when I received an invitation from the United Nations Office of High Representatives for Least Developed Countries, Land-lock Countries, and Small Island Countries to attend a conference in Qatar in 2021. This was based on a nomination from Youth Co:Lab, an initiative co-led by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation.
While the conference was not held as scheduled due to the rise of COVID-19; after over a year of anticipation, the 5th United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) took place in March 2023. As a young representative of Bangladesh, I was honoured to participate in the five-day conference preceded by the LDC5 Youth Forum alongside more than fifty-six young change-makers from 46 least-developed countries. The objective of LDC5 was to shape a pathway to deliver the Doha Programme of Action and achieve a better, more sustainable future for all in LDCs.
The conference began with the LDC5 Youth Forum, where young people discussed development issues that affect them, including education, health, employment, climate change, peace and security, human rights, and migration. This forum was a great opportunity to share my solutions and actions toward these issues.
As a result of the Youth Forum, the International Committee Meeting of Youth Organisations (ICMYO) and the Major Group for Children and Youth (MGCY) created a declaration in support of youth development in LDCs. This declaration aims to ensure young people are engaged in the decision-making process and that the Doha Programme of Action addresses the development needs of young people in LDCs.
Throughout the conference, I spoke in various forums and plenary sessions about sustainable youth financing, capacity building, collaborations, and youth for SDGs. Among the two panels, I was a part of, the first panel, organized by the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), focused on youth-centred innovative finance, while the second panel, "Putting Youth at the Forefront," was co-organized by Qatar Fund and UNDP. My experience in the development sector for the past five years allowed me to provide valuable insights into these issues.
On the last day of the conference, I spoke at the SDG Action Stage alongside two brilliant panellists from Canon, discussing the importance of including youth in the Programme of Actions. This conference has raised my expectations on how youth should be meaningfully engaged in planning for climate action. I now believe that being a part of the Doha Plan of Action is both my right to shape my future and my responsibility to contribute to it.
As the Co-Founder of Protibha, a social enterprise working to diversify the marketable skill sets of rural women, I have always been a firm advocate for gender equality. I was further inspired by the young climate activists in countries such as Mali and Lesotho who were advocating for policies and taking action around climate change by taking the specific needs of women and gender-diverse communities into consideration. This experience made me realize that I can do a lot more to serve the women and gender-diverse communities in rural areas most affected by climate change. Overall, the conference has provided me with extensive experience and knowledge to learn and grow from, as well as an opportunity to collaborate with youth, civil society, and private sector representatives from 46 least-developed countries. I am grateful to Youth Co:Lab not only for this opportunity, but also for providing our social enterprise with mentorship support as well as access to funds and a global network of entrepreneurship ecosystem enablers.
I am excited about the future of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the possibilities of solving challenges together. As a passionate advocate for the development of rural women and underrepresented youth through capacity building, I am hopeful that the Doha Programme of Action will address the development needs of these groups and lead to a better, more sustainable future for all.
The writer, Afruza Tanzi – Co-Founder of Protibha was one of the Top 10 startups of Youth Co:Lab Springboard Bangladesh 4.0 Incubation Programme in 2022 and a member of the Movers Programme in Bangladesh.
Co-created in 2017 by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth so that they can accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship. Read more about Youth Co:Lab here.