French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to invite young Africans rather than their political leaders to a key France-Africa summit during a video call with actor Idris Elba.
The Élysée Palace said Elba, a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations international fund for agricultural development, had asked to speak to the French leader. The Guardian was the only newspaper invited to attend the discussion at the Élysée Palace, which marked the start of the One Planet biodiversity summit in Paris.
Macron also announced that he would increase France’s contribution to the International Fund for Agricultural Development from € 57.8 million to € 86.7 million.
Elba and his wife, Sabrina Dhowre Elba, have called on the president to join them in their campaign to stop the economic shock caused by Covid-19 triggering a global economic crisis, especially in poor African countries.
During the 40-minute exchange, held in the Presidential Palace Green Lounge (Green Room) On Monday, Macron, who spoke English, announced that he would not invite any African leaders to the annual Africa-France summit in the southern city of Montpellier in July.
“Many countries have this kind of summit… after Covid, we thought about how to completely change this summit, to build something new. Maybe it will fail, we have decided to build a new high. There will be absolutely no African leaders invited, we will just invite young people from all over Africa involved in agriculture, civil society, business, culture, sport…
“Coming from Africa and saying what they want for Africa. They will decide what they want. “
He said it was important to include the youth of Africa and in particular the African diaspora in the fight to save global biodiversity.
“We need to strengthen African ownership of this type of initiative. One advantage I have is that I am not part of the generation that participated in colonization or that kind of behavior. I am here to help and facilitate African ownership. All we can do is help people, businesses and African initiatives succeed, ”Macron said. “This is what we owe Africa.
“I think where we can work very strongly and clearly together is that we can build this type of initiative, mobilize money and government commitments, but we have to mobilize young Africans.
He added, “Sometimes you put money on the table and that money is captured by governments with bad behavior… by big companies, sometimes American and European companies that do their own business in Africa, and so on. ‘is unnecessary. The only way to make this sustainable… is to make sure it is captured by young Africans and that is what we actually intend to do.
Macron invited Elba and his wife, who were talking about Australia where the actor is filming, to join him on a visit to Chad, one of the countries benefiting from Africa’s Great Green Wall, the most ambitious reforestation project. in the world.
“We have done very important work on the African diaspora in France. One of our big problems is that we have never, and this is probably part of our history, never made people from the diaspora feel that they are an opportunity for France. One of my goals is to change this behavior, the way we look at them and how they see themselves. I think this is the way to build a whole new model for Africa and for them to take ownership, ”Macron said.
Sabrina Elba said she appreciated Macron’s comments: “What the diaspora will appreciate is to see the understanding and the change in mindset that it is not that Africa needs France so much, but that France needs Africa. When you look at rural communities and the food they provide to the world, this shift is already happening. People are starting to understand that if you give young people in Africa the right opportunities, we can accelerate progress in implementing nature-based solutions and nature-based agriculture to make sure we can live in a world. climate resilient and food secure.
Idris Elba has said he would like to work with the president. “In an age when young people and the world view leadership with some skepticism, it is more important than ever that people see themselves in their leaders. I think the diaspora is looking for that.