Wednesday, March 22

UN names young Gambian as new climate advisor

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Fatou Jeng is among the seven new advisors announced yesterday. Fatou founded Clean Earth Gambia in 2017, a youth-led climate organisation that has mobilised thousands of Gambian young people to help marginalised and vulnerable communities build resilience to climate change.

The announcement comes as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change meets in Switzerland to finalise its landmark Synthesis Report, the first since the Paris Agreement was struck in 2015.  The report is expected to confirm that the world is dramatically off-track in its climate efforts but can still keep global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius with deep and urgent emissions cuts in all sectors. 

“Climate change is the fight of our lives – and young people have been on the frontlines leading the charge for climate justice. The unrelenting conviction of young people is central to keeping climate goals within reach, kicking the world’s addiction to fossil fuels, and delivering climate justice,” said the Secretary-General. 

“Today, I am proud to announce the seven young leaders who will form my next Youth Advisory Group, working side-by-side with young climate activists and experts around the world. I thank my inaugural Youth Advisory Group for their tireless work throughout their two-year term to bring youth perspectives directly to me. 

“I urge young climate advocates everywhere to keep raising your voices.  I am honoured to stand with young people around the world for bolder climate action.”

Reacting to her appointment, the young Gambian climate change advocate says: “I am excited to have been appointed as a climate advisor to the United Nations Secretary General for the next two years,” Ms Jeng told The Point.

“Out of over 600 nominations from around the world, I was selected as one of the seven youth climate advisors to Mr Antonio Guterres. 

“I believe this is a huge accomplishment for young people in The Gambia. With seven years of experience in the climate space as the founder of Clean Earth Gambia and as a co-leader of the women and gender working group of the UNFCCC youth constituency, I look forward to bringing my experience to this role and advising the UN SG on the implementation of climate adaptation projects, as well as bringing forward the voices of African Youth and Global South youth in the UN process and beyond.

“As youth, we serve as local leaders of community-based and grassroots responses/initiatives most affected by climate change, and we have the knowledge and expertise required to ensure adaptation and resilience programmes succeed.

“As a youth climate mobilizer, I am concerned about the impacts climate change has on our communities, particularly affecting the most vulnerable and marginalized populations.” 

She also said: “We continue to see how climate change is leading to rising threats in Banjul, impacting our agricultural sector through drought, land degradation, pollution, and other climate vulnerabilities faced by different communities. 

“I am pleased to see the UN SG involving youth climate leaders to complement the implementation of his climate strategies and processes, as well as advise him. I look forward to consulting youth from Africa and beyond in this role, amplifying their voices and continuing to represent the voices of youth in climate policy, planning, and implementation.”

Fatou Jeng is dedicated to grassroots, national, and international mobilization as a climate educator, frontline activist, and campaigner. Fatou founded Clean Earth Gambia in 2017, a youth-led, local climate organization that has mobilized thousands of Gambian young people to help marginalized and vulnerable communities build resilience to climate change. She has served as Co-lead for the YOUNGO women and gender working group.

Fatou holds a Master’s degree in Environment, Development, and Policy from the University of Sussex. She is also a gender climate negotiator for The Gambia to the UNFCCC and was recognised as TOP 100 Young African Conservation Leader by WWF in 2022.