Pastoralist Robha Abekeri is at COP27 representing the voice of youth in charting pastoralism's future

In Ethiopia’s Afar region, where temperatures can reach up to 54 degrees Celsius at the peak of the hot season, pastoralism is the primary source of livelihood for the people there. They have adapted to the harsh climate and are extremely knowledgeable on the weather patterns, animal land capacity and the usage of environmental resources.

This is the landscape that Robha Murha Abekeri and her people call home. Although her family moved to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, when she was little, shortly after university she moved back to the Afar region’s capital.

‘Ninety-eight percent of my extended family live in a remote rural region where they herd their animals,’ says Robha. ‘I invest much of my time on humanitarian work and volunteerism to support the pastoralist community where I came from.’

Representing pastoralist youth regionally and internationally

It is under these auspices that Robha attended the inaugural Vision for Pastoralist Youth Conference 2026. Gathering at Lukenya University in Kenya from the 27th to the 29th of September 2022, Robha and 27 other young pastoralists from Kenya, Ethiopia and Tanzania came together to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing youth in pastoralism.

The primary objective of the conference was to develop a joint statement on the future of pastoralism in the face of climate change, with a specific focus on the challenges pastoralist youth are facing, a call to action for their integration in efforts to support pastoralism and the restoration of the rangelands upon which they depend. That statement was delivered at an official side event–Pastoralism and Rangelands Restoration: Promising solutions to benefit our planet and people–at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change COP27 in Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh.

The delegates of the conference unanimously selected Robha to confer their critical message, in front of high-level officials at what is possibly one of the world’s most important climate gathering.

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Banner photo: Robha Abekeri (speaking with mic) in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, in a panel at COP27. Photo courtesy of Robha Abekeri.