Our voices and needs must be put first in climate talks, young people tell COP28

© COP28/Anthony Fleyhan. International Youth Climate Delegates (IYCD) pose for a group photo during the UN Climate Change Conference, COP28, at Expo City in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

United Nations, 8 December 2023

Young climate advocates at COP28 in Dubai on Friday said they will not sit idly by while climate change threatens their futures. They demanded that government policymakers put the needs of the world’s nearly 2 billion children first – their voices and ideas can help rescue the planet.

With negotiations on curbing global warming and the future of fossil fuels generating the most buzz as the latest UN climate conference heads towards the finish line – COP28 is scheduled to wrap up next Tuesday – young people and children grabbed the spotlight today.

In the lead-up to the conference, the UN released a string of dire reports confirming that our planet is at a tipping point. The latest survey from the UN weather agency, WMO, said that greenhouse gasses have “turbo-charged a dramatic acceleration in ice melt and sea level rise.”

The world is home to 1.8 billion young people between the ages of 10 to 24 – the largest youth generation in history. They are increasingly vocal and aware of the risks posed by the climate crisis, and they took the center stage today the Al-Waha theater in Dubai’s Expo City.

Movement for change

At a youth dialogue event, Ameila Turk of YOUNGO – a global network of children and youth activists – outlined the global youth statement delivered to delegates at COP28, a policy document prepared with over 750,000 inputs received from over 150 countries.

She described it as a part of climate movement.

“While we might not necessarily have the ability to bring everybody to a COP itself, the global statement is an excellent example of how we able to show… what we really care about, and to show the audience as well why we are here.”

In his remarks, Dr. Mashkur Isa of YOUNGO asked attendees under the age of 35 to raise hands and most hands in the packed auditorium went up.

However, he noted that it is unfortunate that such a high level of youth representation was largely missing in the day-to-day work of COP28, as well as previous UN climate conferences.

“Despite our continuous calls for ambitious climate action our children and youth are absent from climate discussions, commitments and policy-making. Parties must protect our interests by immediately placing the voices of children and youth at the center of all levels of climate change decision-making,” he stated.

The original article appeared here.

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