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October 23, 2020 - Driving Empowerment: Protecting the Most Vulnerable

Climate is changing: let's not leave the most vulnerable behind

Climate change will not affect people equally: some groups risk to pay a higher price. This was the topic of the discussion held (online) on Friday 23 October 2020 during the fifth webinar of the series preceding the two global meetings to be convened in Milan at the end of 2021 to prepare UNFCCC COP 26.

Women, for example, represent around two thirds of the world's poor and around seventy percent of the world's farmers, which means they had to take on most of this immense challenge (IPCC 2015, "Special Report on Climate Change and on earth "). Although they are often the first ones to adopt many new agricultural techniques, to intervene in phases of crisis, to become entrepreneurs in green energy and responsible for domestic decisions, women and girls already bear the burden of environmental, economic and social shocks. Nonetheless their contribution was too often neglected and their needs forgotten. Building a sustainable future will lead to the emancipation of women and girls, as enshrined in Sustainable Development Goal 5 "Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls".

Agricultural workers, including young people and women, are also extremely vulnerable to climate change. Rising temperatures are causing severe droughts and heat waves, water shortages and severe soil damage, with greater risks of desertification in many areas of the world. The COVID-19 pandemic, together with climate change and "business as usual" development models, have exacerbated the pressure facing the most vulnerable, particularly with regard to food security. According to FAO, nearly 12 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia were already in difficult circumstances due to extensive severe droughts and consecutive failed harvests when hordes of desert locusts descended on their crops and pastures between late December 2019 and the beginning of January 2020. No continent is immune.

Ensuring access to food and food security also means contributing to a general transformation. However, the conditions for achieving these goals depend on governments “ability to implement inclusive, equitable and high-quality educational programs that promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”, as set out in Sustainable Development Goal 4 “Providing quality, equitable and inclusive education, and learning opportunities for all”.

To the webinar participated the United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Amina J. Mohammed and, by a video message, Emanuela C. Del Re, Italian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Three young speakers described their innovative experiences: Fatou Jeng (Gambia), founder of Clean Earth Gambia, an NGO that seeks to create awareness on the environment and supports women farmers; Sophia Kianni (United States), member of the Youth Committee on Climate Change, set up by the Secretary General of the United Nations, and founder of an NGO with over 5,000 volunteers that translates climate information into more than 100 languages ​​and Louise Mabulo (Philippines), founder of Cacao Project, a social enterprise that has helped more than 200 farmers plant 80,000 trees.

Salina Abraham, the outgoing president of the International Forestry Students' Association, and Ahmed Badr, writer, multimedia artist, social entrepreneur, founder of Narratio and former Iraqi refugee served as moderators.


October 23, 2020
Driving Empowerment: Protecting the Most Vulnerable

 Virtual event       

 Time: 14:30 CEST - 8:30 am EDT 

 Type: open

 Format: discussion, italian translation available


The webinar was focused on the role of the most vulnerable in the fight against climate change, with a particular focus on young people, women and young girls, young people living in fragile settings, as well as people working in the agriculture sector, and how governments could further enhance their participation in decision-making processes domestically and at the international level, including measures to ease access to education while improving its quality.

The webinar was attended by Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina J. Mohammed, and a video message from the Italian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Emanuela Del Re, have been released.

The session covered ways governments, the UN and the international community could:

• enhance the inclusion of the most vulnerable in policy and decision-making processes in their own countries, with focus on young people
   livingin fragile settings, women and young girls, as well as agriculture workers;

• improve vulnerable communities’ involvement and opportunities to promote concrete proposals to be considered in the UNFCCC climate
   negotiations and the international political agenda;

• foster climate education, training and awareness to build a more sustainable and resilient communities.

Youth speakers were asked to provide their inputs on the above topics, including by:

• sharing their own experience in driving youth action and awareness on food security and climate change and how to make food system
   and food security more climate resilient;

• providing their views on how to achieve gender equality through climate action and quality education while sharing their own experience
   on gender issues with regardto food security and system;

• providing real-life testimonies of how climate change further exacerbates the situation of the most vulnerable living in fragile settings;

• addressing how to advance climate change education and youth empowerment.


 Documents: Concept note



Salina Abraham
Outgoing President of the International Forestry Students’ Association and former coordinator of the Youth in Landscapes Initiative.

Ahmed Badr
Writer, multi-media artist, social entrepreneur, the Founder of Narratio and a former Iraqi refugee working at the intersection of creativity, displacement, and youth empowerment.

High-Level Speakers

Amina J. Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nation
She described the challenges made by climate change to the most vulnerable people, such as young people, women and those living in fragile settings, and the role played by Agenda 2030 in strengthening these groups.



Pre-recorded video messages
Emanuela C. Del Re, Italian Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation
She described how food security, gender protection and education can be considered the main drivers of the most vulnerable groups emancipation process.



Youth Speakers

Fatou Jeng (The Gambia)
Founder of Clean Earth Gambia, an NGO that seeks to create awareness about the environment, has trained over 500 school children on climate change because environmental education is not incorporated in the Gambian education curriculum.
Sophia Kianni (United States)
She is an 18-year-old member of the UN Secretary General’s Youth Advisory Council on climate change. She is the founder and executive director of Climate Cardinals, an international non profit with over 5,000 volunteers translating climate information into more than 100 languages.
Louise Mabulo (Philippines)
Award-winning chef, farmer, and entrepreneur, she is the founder of The Cacao Project, a social venture that has helped more than 200 farmers plant 80,000 trees, and Young Champion of the Earth under United Nations Environment Program.