CIGOFA2: Welcome speech by the International Coordinator of YILAA, Innocent Antoine HOUEDJI

Hello/ good morning, colleagues. I want to extend an invitation to all of you to attend the SECOND international conference on youth land governance in Africa. We appreciate every one of you coming here with us today. 

Today is the SECOND international youth land governance CONFERENCE in Africa, and we are honored to host it.

I want to begin by providing a brief overview of YILAA. YILAA is an international organisation headquartered in Porto-Novo, Benin. We at YILLA value young people’s potential for land governance; foster collaboration among youth associations to form a global youth network for the promotion and protection of young people’s and women’s rights; support young people in identifying and utilizing opportunities related to state projects, and support training and research for young people working in the land sector. Our membership is via the application. Our expertise is in land governance for youth, gender, women’s land rights, and training and research.

Before we begin, I’d like to give my most profound appreciation to everyone who generously supported us in making this event a success. (GOVERNMENT OF BENIN, NELGA, CADASTA, LANDESA, UN HABITANT, Global Land Alliance, PRINDEX, CICODEV, OXFAM, COLANDEF, and the Rural Development Division of the African Union Commission’s Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy, and Environmental Sustainability (DARBE) (AUC). Kenya Land Alliance ILC, AUDA-NEPAD, To name a few). Without you, we could not have done it!

During CIGOFA 2020, the youths made recommendations to conduct a climate change knowledge-sharing event and make the climate change fund more accessible to youth organizations. This second edition of CIGOFA 2021 falls on International Day of Rural Women, a day on which we will commit to rural women’s full engagement in climate justice. Also, it focus on the role of traditional authorities in youth land access to land…

To address these issues, it is critical to establish crucibles for exchange and sharing experiences to instill hope in Youth and increase their capacity to find and seize land governance opportunities.

The meeting’s objective is to explore why engaging youth in land governance is critical for addressing climate change and economic injustice. The conference aims to address the economic and gender disparities perpetrated against youth and indigenous groups in many African countries due to the slow implementation of laws and frameworks on weak land governance systems and regimes. For example, although Africa is the youngest continent, with three in five people under the age of 25, youth remain on the margin of land policy formulation processes and are similarly dismissed by traditional mechanisms as being too young to participate.

You’ll agree with me that young people continue to be marginalized by informal decision-making procedures dominated by older men. This position will likely change in the following decades as young people grow increasingly vocal in seeking global and domestic systemic improvements.

Additionally, these conferences take place at a time when member states, INGOs, academia, and climate change specialists are set to attend COP 26 to assess the Paris climate agreement and the upcoming African land policy conference (CLPA) in the spirit of leaving no one behind.

The African Union Commission (AUC) recently established the « One million by 2021 » program, which aims to reach one (1) million youngsters by 2021 to achieve maximum impact through the use of four Es, notably Education, Entrepreneurship, Employment, and Engagement. The AUC hopes that this new strategic focus will establish more effective procedures and platforms for involving the young among themselves and through intergenerational conversation.

 I believe you will find this conference beneficial in addressing youth land governance in Africa as a means of contributing to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

To avoid taking up too much of your time, I’d want to leave some time for (moderators and panelists) to brief you on any upcoming activities. This conference will be enjoyable and educational.

By 2030, the target date for the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the number of young people is expected to increase by 7%.

So that,  work together, challenge together and win together

Therefore, a very hearty welcome to every one of you, and I hope you enjoy the dialogue.

Many thanks.


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