Abdulbasit Mikail is in front of a screen with the COP 28 logo


A Report from COP 28

Abdulbasit Mikail is a member of our Youth Advisory Council who represented us at the 2023 United Nations’ annual conference on climate change at the end of last year. In an interview, he shares his reflections on the experience*

February 7, 2024

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Abdulbasit Mikail is a member of our Youth Advisory Council who represented us at the 2023 United Nations’ annual conference on climate change at the end of last year. In an interview, he shares his reflections on the experience*

“My passion for climate justice — fighting for the rights of the people whose homes and livelihoods have been destroyed by this climate impact — is my focus on the Youth Advisory Council, and it was my main purpose for attending COP28, which was held in Dubai. 

What I saw at COP was beyond my expectations. There were about 90,000 people from different backgrounds and countries, and it was my first time being in such a group. At first, it was very overwhelming for me to navigate. I started asking myself, how am I going to contribute to all this discussion? How am I going to amplify the ideas of young people who are shouting at the top of their voices to ensure that people in the communities are heard? 

The world is rapidly changing, and we are fighting for a transition to cut down anything that causes emissions. I work with a number of organizations in my country, Nigeria, that are mainly focused on mitigation and adaptation programs. We are building the capacity for young people to understand what climate change is all about, how they can contribute towards mitigating it, and how they can adapt. Young people know the impact of climate change because we see what it does to our communities and to our households. 

During COP28, I had the opportunity to work in the Youth Pavilion. As a member of the policy briefing task force, I was able to source speakers and negotiators to update our constituency on what was happening in the negotiating rooms because not everyone had access to those conversations. There are different badges for people attending COP, which offer different levels of access, and everyone wants to know what is happening in the meetings they can’t access. So, having those speakers who do attend report back to us actually helps everyone know how to contribute going forward. So, I believe that was my primary contribution to the effort.

Being among 90,000 people is one of the best things that ever happened to me. Beyond climate talk, it was a moment of learning. Seeing how young people are passionate, how they have worked to reach where they are, and how they share their stories made me understand that I wasn't the only one in this. Of course, I know there are a lot of countries facing this disaster, but hearing people telling their own stories about how devastating it is, is something I've been reflecting on. It has solidified my hope to keep fighting and believe that one day, we are going to achieve just a world free of climate and environmental disasters. 

One moment that will always stay with me was the feeling I had when I was able to find a seat in that massive arena and listen to the opening speech from Simon Stiell, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). His speech was so motivating. The part that sparked the fire in me and made me stay focused was his mention that behind every line you work on, every word or corner you wrestle with here at COP, there is a human being, a family, and a community that depends on you. 

Knowing that just being there is me representing my people, representing my community, and whatever I do will either contribute to their development or decline in what we are building back home. That helped me focus, strategize my activities, and prioritize what’s most important. Because if you don't set your priorities, you end up achieving less than you expected. Hearing that speech makes me feel stronger and still stays with me in whatever I do.“ 

Abdulbasit Mikail is a certified educator and youth activist from Kaduna State, Nigeria. He is one of the youth task team members of the African Youth Partnership and the co-founder of BYY Innovations—a youth-led social enterprise that equips young people with emerging digital skills and mentorships to enhance their capacities to stand out and make a difference in their communities.

*this interview has been condensed and edited

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