CAIRO (ILO News) - Three youth groups that responded to the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and International Labour Organization (ILO) Youth Green Skills Accelerator Challenge Call have won cash prizes and specialized support to enable them to further develop their innovative initiatives towards a just transition to a greener future in their communities.
The IsDB and the ILO jointly launched the Challenge Call in May 2022 as part of efforts to build skills required for green jobs and promote youth participation in a just transition. It worked to identify, incubate, test and disseminate innovative ideas that equip youths living in IsDB-ILO common member states with the competencies required to support a just transition in their communities.
After having received more than 120 applications, a rigorous evaluation process was followed, yielding three winning teams which were announced during the Youth and Future Generations Day at the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
In addition to sizeable cash prizes, the winners will receive technical support in the form of a Skills Innovation Lab and will join the ILO’s Skills Innovation Network, both integral elements of the Skills Innovation Facility in the context of which the Challenge Call was launched by the IsDB and the ILO.
The winners were announced and presented with their awards at a ceremony at the COP27 conference.
The first prize of USD $50,000 was awarded to the Bangladesh Youth Environmental Initiative for their project proposal “Empowering youth on green transition.” This project seeks to improve the economic condition of 100 climate-vulnerable marginalized youth by providing them access to better employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in the green economy transition.
The project seeks to do so by establishing Green Skills Innovation Hubs within TVET institutions, as well as by mapping skills gaps in the Solar Home System and in the Commercial Solar System, identifying potential beneficiaries for vocational and on-the-job training, as well as job matching and entrepreneurship training.
“Climate change is affecting the livelihoods of young people in coastal Bangladesh,” said Shamir Shehab, Executive Director of the Bangladesh Youth Environmental Initiative at the awards ceremony. “At BYEI, we are excited to be one of the winners and implement the ‘Empower Youth on Green Transition’ project to build skills, capacity, and business enterprise in zero waste circular economy. It will ensure climate justice by empowering the youth from climate-vulnerable districts of Bangladesh and help achieve the SDG Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production,” Shehab said.
The second prize of USD $30,000 was awarded to Association 3535 from Côte d’Ivoire for their project proposal “Cool Lion Corps: Jobs in climate-efficient warehouse and solar cooling.” This project seeks to strengthen the green building construction skills of 50 vulnerable young people and build a climate-efficient warehouse to extend the shelf life of perishable mango produce for 400 smallholder farmers in the impoverished northern region of Côte d’Ivoire.
The project seeks to do so by developing a pool of 50 young people who will be trained and specialized in the construction of solar energy-powered storage warehouses and proceed to build a model warehouse for a cooperative.
“The IsDB-ILO challenge was rewarding because it was such a great opportunity for us to show ingenuity to empower our communities. We also believe this challenge will definitely build our capacity in implementing impactful projects in climate actions” said Marie-Stéphanie Touré, Secretary General of Association 3535.
The third prize of USD 20,000 goes to Musanadah Foundation for Development from Yemen for their project proposal “Yemeni Lighting Initiative.” This project seeks to enhance the sustainable economic opportunities for 40 vulnerable youth.
The project seeks to do so by assessing capacity-building gaps and implementing a training programme for solar energy technicians in installation, repair and maintenance work and performing a large-scale awareness-raising campaign on the uses of solar energy for various sectors as well as training microfinance institutions, companies and local entrepreneurs in the fields of sale and distribution of small solar systems and helping them create new business opportunities.
“The Yemeni Lighting Initiative team experienced all the difficulties and obstacles that a country suffering from war, conflict and climate change faces, but we never stopped our work,” said Somaia Alhosa, Executive Director of the Musanadah Foundation at the ceremony. “The team and I remember how the year 2020 was filled with many complications and problems, including the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite this, we established four local centres, employing 160 young men and women. Within nine months, 33,000 solar energy systems were assembled. We Yemenis consider this a great event in light of our fragile and complex environment. The aim is create a better life for Yemeni families. Our societies deserve and require perseverance, creativity and innovation,” Alhosa said.
“The IsDB and ILO recognize the leadership that young people are demonstrating in the fight against climate change and their key role in driving climate innovation, including amid the COVID-19-induced jobs crisis,” said IsDB Director General of Global Practices and Partnerships, Amer Bukvic. “These young people showed that they can play as agents of change to support a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all”.
“The ILO extends its sincere congratulations to the winners of the Challenge Call. These youths have demonstrated that even at a young age, they are already innovative leaders in their communities,” said ILO Country Director for Egypt Eric Oechslin. “Their truly impressive initiatives prove that young people can translate their activism, commitment and creativity into real action that creates decent work, promotes entrepreneurship, and builds valuable skills they will need in a greener economy,” Oechslin said.
The Challenge Call evaluation process included a first-stage review by IsDB and ILO specialists on youth, green jobs and skills, as well as a second-stage virtual pitch event.