Cameroon, Palestine, and Lebanon Youth Win IsDB-ILO Challenge as COP28 Wraps Up in Dubai

Dubai, UAE, 8 December 2023 – Three innovative youth-led initiatives emerged victorious at the Islamic Development Bank-ILO Youth Green Skills Accelerator Challenge Call, showcasing their potential to empower young people and contribute to a greener future.

The IsDB-ILO second Challenge Call  was issued ahead of COP28 to boost youth involvement in a Just Transition, channelling their activism into climate action and a greener economy.

With 115 applications across MENA, Africa, and Asia, three winning teams emerged. At COP28 in Dubai, these winners showcased their innovations, evaluated by a jury, and received their awards during an official ceremony at COP28. Winning organizations were awarded their prizes by Amer Bukvic, Acting DG of the Global Practice & Partnerships at IsDB and Moustapha Kamal Gueye the Director of the Action Programme on Just Transitions at the ILO.

CAASDEV from Cameroon won the US$50,000 top prize for "Solar Bright Futures," training 50 crisis-affected youths as solar technicians, empowering them with skills for sustainable livelihoods in Mezam Division, Northwest Region.

“Our presence at this stage is more than an achievement; it is a commitment to a sustainable and brighter tomorrow for Cameroon, Africa and the world,” said Mbimenyuy Marius Kongnso, Co-Founder of CAASDEV at the awards ceremony.

The second prize of US$30,000 was awarded to RIWAQ- Centre for Architectural Conservation from the state of Palestine for their project proposal “Heritage for future: Wood Conservation Vocational Training”. This project seeks to develop a heritage-related innovative vocational training programme in wood conservation in the West Bank, to enhance the capacities of Palestinian youth to invest in their cultural heritage, fostering innovation in heritage-related themes and green approaches.

“Within the Palestinian context, this project comes of great importance and potential, traditional knowledge has answers and solutions to employment, social cohesion, environmental approaches, resources’ sovereignty and other relevant causes,” said Shatha Safi, Director of RIWAQ.

The third prize of US$20,000 was awarded to SAWA for Development & AID from Lebanon for their project “Olive crust production for heating purposes.” This initiative focuses on producing dry olive crust for heating, considering Lebanon’s economic situation.

By training youths in the Bekaa region known for hosting a large number of Syrian refugees, the project offers income generation opportunities for both the host community and the refugee population.

“Being recognized as one of the top three finalists is significant for our NGO operating in Lebanon. This recognition provides us with a valuable platform to speak up for the challenges faced by vulnerable communities. Whether we secure the first place or not, the opportunity itself allows us to shed light on the issues affecting our community. It is a win in itself for us,” said Fares Fares, Program Manager of the SAWA at the ceremony.

“Through this challenge call, we aim to unleash the potential of the youth in IsDB member states, providing them with a platform to showcase their ingenuity and commitment to a greener future. These projects are not merely ideas on paper; they embody the aspirations of young minds determined to contribute meaningfully to a sustainable and resilient future and the success of these projects will not only benefit the immediate communities but will serve as beacons of inspiration for others around the globe,” said IsDB Acting Director General of Global Practices and Partnership, Amer Bukvic.

“Climate action and the shift to a green economy can potentially create more and better-quality jobs. At the ILO, we support countries in building the skills that youth need to develop a successful green career. We recognize and applaud the leadership that young people have demonstrated in the fight against climate change, and we are committed to continuing to work with them for their great ideas to become a reality, first through a pilot and through upscaling of this model where they are based,” said ILO Director, Action Programme/Just Transitions, Moustapha Kamal.

This collaborative effort between IsDB and ILO represents a landmark initiative, striving to champion a just transition to low-carbon economies and fortify resilience by developing green skills within vulnerable communities. The projects unveiled in this year's challenge call are poised to contribute significantly to shaping a more sustainable and resilient future.