As the world grapples with pressing environmental challenges, young changemakers step up to take the lead on the green transition and reshape the narrative of our planet’s future. The journey of Fatouma Mohamed Barakat, Idmane Moussa Ali and Abdourahman Ali Ibrahim, UN Youth Volunteers serving with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Djibouti, exemplifies the critical role of youth in leading the way towards an environmentally-sustainable and climate-friendly world.
With the spirit of volunteering deeply rooted in her, Fatouma has always had the drive to empower young people. Her journey started in Geneva where she interned with the Permanent Mission of Djibouti to the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.
Armed with knowledge and experience, and having youth empowerment at heart, she returned to Djibouti to volunteer as Regional Coordinator and Youth Development Delegate with UNDP. Within her assignment, she has been implementing the Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) in her country since 2021.
Djibouti, like many other countries in the region, faces the impacts of climate change, especially in vulnerable and remote communities. Through the YLP and other youth engagement activities, Fatouma helps equip young people and communities in rural areas with the knowledge and skills to adapt and mitigate these challenges. She helps organize workshops on waste and sanitation, resilience and gender in Djibouti City and the five regions of the country.
Youth need more training and education on green skills and climate change, as well as increased opportunities in the green economy. They are our present and our future. --Fatouma Barakat, UN Youth Volunteer with UNDP Djibouti
Idmane Moussa Ali, who volunteers as a Programme Assistant for Inclusive livelihoods, also champions youth and community engagement and helps build individuals’ capacities for inclusive access to sustainable livelihoods.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, she helped provide support to vulnerable communities by adopting a "leave no one behind" approach within the framework of Rising Djibouti, a portfolio of six COVID-19 socio-economic recovery projects.
One of these projects included a social business component that involved three phases of training and extensive community engagement across all regions of Djibouti, to which Idmane contributed through her assignment. Over 1,000 young people received training, and 50 individuals were successfully incubated as part of the project.
Idmane was also involved in grant-making activities supporting civil society organizations working on women's empowerment, environmental sustainability and civil engagement. Her role was to enable them to conduct impactful activities within their communities that would result in positive change.
Another inspiring UN Youth Volunteer serving with UNDP in Djibouti is Abdourahman Ali, who strives to advance climate action and environment protection. With a background in agricultural engineering, he has been serving as a Programme Assistant for two years within the Environmental Unit.
Adbourahman is the focal point for the Ministry of Environment at UNDP. He ensures collaborative efforts with the ministry in all formulated and implemented projects aimed at building climate resilience and working with local communities and civil society organizations to improve livelihoods, particularly in rural farming communities.
Abdourahman is currently supporting four ongoing projects that tackle diverse environmental challenges, including marine biodiversity preservation, climate adaptation and access to water, access to solar energy solution, and agropastoral capacity development.
He plays a pivotal role in analyzing the ongoing projects and preparing technical reports. He is also the focal point for UNDP’s Moonshot initiative, which aims to reduce the organization’s operational carbon footprint by 50 per cent by 2030.
Abdourahman and his team actively support youth and civil society organizations working to combat climate change. For instance, during Environment Week, they engage extensive tree planting in areas impacted by overheating. Their efforts extend to schools, colleges, and universities, where they educate and raise awareness among young people about climate change and sustainable practices.
The dedication of volunteers like Fatouma, Idmane and Abdourahman exemplifies the power of youth in leading environmental sustainability efforts, leaving a positive and lasting impact on our planet.