Climate change activists and conservationists are calling for more funds to be allocated to youth-led initiatives geared toward environmental protection. They also suggest for ‘big funders’ to adopt a policy of allocating a specific quarter of funds to youth. The call was made as they reacted to the upcoming 35th Meeting of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) Board scheduled for March 2023 and will be held in Rwanda. The Green Climate Fund is the world’s largest climate fund, mandated to support developing countries to raise and realise their climate action plans towards low-emission, climate-resilient development. The decision for Rwanda to host the high-profile meeting was announced at the recent GCF Board Meeting in South Korea. Speaking about her expectations from the meeting, Honorine Isingizwe, an environmentalist who is also the Executive Director at Young Volunteers for the Environment (YVE), GCF board meeting will present a unique opportunity for Rwanda but also called for the involvement of the youth in all aspects of climate planning. “Such gatherings present a unique opportunity for the country but also for the youth. However, we wish for more youth involvement in designing and reviewing several environmental projects since they are the forefront partners in climate change. We wish to share our ideas since we are part of the future, plans made from such high profile meetings are for the future generations to implement and benefit from,” she said. Isingizwe also pointed out that GCF has funds that can be very beneficial in mitigating climate change if the criteria of accessing the money accommodates and funds youth innovative ideas. “We are committed and want to learn from the older generations. For that to happen, we should be brought on board as co-creators and co-partners,” she said. More than 300 people from civil society, private sector, Nationally Designated Authorities, and Accredited Entities to the GCF as well as board members are expected to attend the meeting. “Considering that GCF finances are allocated mainly to projects in developing countries, of which, there are many in Africa, its an opportunity for Africa for the board to seat in Kigali. Young people need not only to be invited but to sit at the high table where decisions are made,” said Philip Anderson Samura, a Climate Change enthusiast, who is also the Secretary-General of Fellows of Conservation Club at the African Leadership University (ALU). He added that 70 per cent of Africas population are young people and they are the custodians of innovative projects that mitigate climate change. “However, its the young people in conservation that are still challenged with climate funding. GCF board should take a firm decision on allocating a significant quarter of their finances to indicative projects run by youth.” Attendees will have the opportunity to witness first-hand the country’s efforts to address climate change, including through projects funded by Green Climate Fund. Emmanuel Sindikubwabo, the Executive Director of WE DO GREEN and climate change activist said, “GCF board will offer us an opportunity to network and learn from advanced environmentalists.” Rwanda has a strong partnership with the Green Climate Fund and was the first country to have a government institution, the Ministry of Environment, accredited to directly access climate finance through the fund. According to Alain Shimirwa, a climate science researcher and clean energy specialist, “as youth climate activists, the meeting will provide opportunities to present our climate projects. To some of us with start-up projects in conservation, we shall showcase what we do but also push for the financing of start-ups since it remains our biggest challenge.” In a statement posted on the Ministry of Environment website, Minister Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya expressed delight in hosting the meeting saying that the decision to bring the meeting, “is a vote of confidence in Rwanda’s climate action efforts, and we are excited to welcome the GCF board members as well as hundreds of experts and stakeholders to Kigali. Rwanda is working hard to become a carbon-neutral and climate resilient nation and we look forward to sharing our experience.” According to the Ministry of Environment, Rwanda is partnering with the Green Climate Fund on a number of climate investments. In 2019, the Government of Rwanda secured US$ 32 million from the GCF to strengthen the resilience of rural communities in Gicumbi District in the Northern Province. In 2021, Rwanda signed a funding agreement with GCF and IUCN to transform the Eastern Province through climate adaptation, with a GCF contribution of US$ 33.7 million and an additional US$ 15.8 million in co-financing from the Government and project partners. We are very pleased that Rwanda will host our 35th Board Meeting in March 2023. The Green Climate Fund is a key partner of Rwanda and to date has invested over US$100 million in the country for urgently needed climate action,” said GCF Executive Director Yannick Glemarec in a statement. He said, “During my recent visit to Kigali for the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, I witnessed how President Kagames leadership brought countries together and highlighted the importance of leveraging climate finance in developing countries. I look forward to strengthening our partnership through the hosting of this Board meeting.” The board of the Green Climate Fund typically holds three meetings each year. The board is charged with the governance and oversight of the Fund’s management. It was established by 194 sovereign governments’ party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The board is independent and guided by the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention.