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Faces of COP26: Meet the Kenyan climate advocate urging the Global North to step up

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Kaluki Paul Mutuku, African regional director at Youth4Nature
Kaluki Paul Mutuku, African regional director at Youth4Nature   -   Copyright  Marthe de Ferrer
By Marthe de Ferrer

Throughout COP26, we’re profiling some interesting people we meet here in Glasgow.

From volunteers to politicians to activists to scientists, we’ll bring you the breadth of people here at the UN climate summit.

Name

Kaluki Paul Mutuku.

Role

I'm from Kenya and African Regional Director at Youth4Nature.

Why are you at COP26?

We are a youth-led organisation and we are coming to demand that we are in the negotiation space. There is room for young people and you cannot leave them out.

You have to centre young people and centre communities - especially Indigenous and frontline communities who are focusing on restoration solutions at the grassroots.

Why is nature so important in fighting the climate crisis?

Nature is the number one ally that we have to fight against climate change and biodiversity loss.

It's important for us to always highlight natural climate solutions and place nature at the centre of negotiations because it's the very backbone of why humanity and our human survival.

Nature is the number one ally that we have to fight against climate change.

If we discuss nature we are giving hope to, not just the current but, the future generations.

What does it mean to you to see nature as such a major focus at this COP?

This is one of the first few times that nature has been a focus of the discussion.

It's all been talked about previously, but now it's like a step in the right direction.

We are hoping and wishing that all negotiators will actually start thinking beyond this, looking at how can we finance nature. How can we place young people and communities at the core of decision-making? How can we open up the discussion outside of this conference to position countries and grassroots with resources to meaningfully engage in this space?

What’s your reaction to the deforestation pledge made yesterday?

You know what? It's a good pledge. Honestly, I think €16 billion is a huge amount to mobilise on a pledge towards stopping deforestation by 2030.

But for me, I'm mostly thinking, where is the money? How do we translate the commitment into action? How do we support the grassroots?

We need action beyond commitments.

How do we transfer the money and the technology to communities? How do we ensure that we are using nature-based solutions to safeguard our own survival?

It's a challenge for our government leaders - we need action beyond commitments.

Why do you think young voices are so important?

Climate change chooses no generation, it's affecting us all here and now. It's our very future that we are fighting for, that we are demanding for.

These venues are a space for us to be able to put together our energy, creativity and innovation - we must be co-creators in the solutions to the nature and climate crisis of today.

How long have you worked in the environmental sector?

I have been an environmentalist and climate advocate for the past 10 years, but actively engaging on nature-based solutions for the past three years in the region of Africa.

I'm born and raised in Kenya and I spent most of my childhood in our village in the country in a place called Machakos. It's a semi-arid region and we face water scarcity, food starvation and encroachment on nature.

This is what gave me the urge to push for change in my community, using nature-based solutions and restorative mechanisms for villages and my community, to be able to build resiliency around the climate crisis and biodiversity loss.

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'This is what gave me the urge to push for change in my community, using nature-based solutions', Kaluki Paul Mutuku, Kenya.Canva

What does a successful COP26 look like to you?

For me, a successful COP translates to how much we are translating the commitments to action.

It’s about how we are going to leave this conference with the hope of getting finance to unlock potential...how we are going to prioritise marginalised and frontline communities.

A successful conference is ensuring that we carry forward the youth movement beyond COP27, and build better towards COP27 - which I believe will be an African COP.

If we don't get more youth representation in the next COPs, it will be a failed conference for me.

What are your realistic hopes for COP26?

We need the Global North to step up. We need climate financing.

In terms of climate financing, we need to think about how to support our Global South countries to meaningfully engage in this decade of action, in a way where they can build more resilience for climate adaptation, especially for us in southern Africa.

We need the Global North to step up.

And lastly, I think the hope that we can centre negotiations around young people, around nature and around marginalised and frontline communities.

These are the people who are the most affected by climate change, while doing a lot of the work to create solutions at the local level.

Watch the video above to hear more of what Kaluki has to say.