Making Connections and Sharing Solutions: WICA Fellow Madhy Petronique POBA SUKI Reflects on the Regional Conference of Youth

In 2021, USFS launched the Women’s Initiative for Climate Action, or WICA, a training program designed to support early-career professionals looking to work in the climate sector. The goal of the program is to get more central African women involved in all aspects of climate work—from estimating emissions to climate negotiations.

Madhy Petronique POBA SUKI is a WICA fellow from Gabon who is currently interning at the National Climate Council after completing a degree in Greenhouse Gas Management during her WICA fellowship. An economist by training, Madhy is now an expert in greenhouse gas managment, measurement, and reporting and verification in agriculture, forestry, and other land use and energy sectors.

In October 2022 Madhy was selected to take part in the Regional Conference of Youth (RCOY) in Pretoria, South Africa. The conference aimed to strengthen the capacity of African youth in terms of advocacy and policy dialogue for better participation of African youth in international climate negotiations including the Conference of Youth (COY 17) and the Conference of Parties on Climate (CoP27). It brought together 30 young people, including 17 women, from ten African countries—Gabon, South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho, Cameroon, Uganda, and the Gambia.

When she returned to Gabon, Madhy shared her experiences and impressions with USFS.

In discussion during a working session on climate policy governance in Africa with Deon Shekuza from Namibia and Emmanuel from the Gambia.

“I wanted to take part in this conference to deepen my knowledge about negotiations and advocacy, to meet young people from the continent, to share my experience while learning from others, to unify my voice with that of young African leaders, and to contribute to the youth action plan for the climate. During the RCOY, I wanted to be informed about the actions and projects that can be carried out at the local, sub-regional and international levels for an effective fight against climate change. I also hoped that a multidisciplinary platform for young Africans would be set up at the end of the conference to maintain the sharing of experiences between young Africans.

I was delighted to meet young people, institutional actors with various fields of action and expertise, activists, negotiators, greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory specialists, communicators, journalists, and managers of structures that implement climate projects (UNDP, Climate Innovation Centre). Through reflections on the challenges of youth involvement in national climate processes, I learned how youth in some countries have mobilized to effectively participate in the implementation of the national climate agenda.

Photo with Elisabeth Gulugulu from Zimbabwe (YOUNGO global focal point) and Simpilo from Zambia. I met both of them during a summer school on climate justice in Nairobi organized by the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).

“During the group work sessions, I was able to share the challenges Gabon faces in access to energy and governance of climate policies and then propose solutions for how to address them.”

This event was very beneficial because it allowed me to meet young Africans involved in climate action. It made me realize the importance of setting up a platform for young Africans to share challenges, knowledge, experiences, and solutions to the climate crisis. During the three days, I learned that we young Africans need to be sufficiently prepared for the climate negotiation discussions to contribute significantly as well as propose bold and decisive actions to ensure the implementation of our adaptation and mitigation goals.

During the group work sessions, I was able to share the challenges Gabon faces in access to energy and governance of climate policies and then propose solutions for how to address them. The solutions proposed were the transition to renewable energy accessible to all and at lower cost, especially in rural areas; investment in infrastructure conducive to clean energy, considering youth issues in climate policies, especially in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and the idea that the government should offer win-win partnerships with youth in climate projects.

The RCOY made me realize the importance of supporting and funding youth to participate in these regional events to strengthen their involvement in the fight against climate change. I thank the U.S. Forest Service for implementing the WICA program that introduces young people, especially women, to national climate change processes in the Congo Basin.”

Doing an awareness-raising art activity in an elementary school under the theme of "speaking a common African language."
Working session on challenges and solutions on energy access in Africa with Damalie Tebajjukira from Uganda and Ashlin Naidoo from South Africa

Thanks so much to Madhy for sharing her experience. To learn more about WICA and meet our other fellows, click here.

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