COP26 dedicated the 5th of November 2021 to youth empowerment, through a rich and considerable programme that saw youth as main actors. Especially, two events summarized the requests and proposals of youth from all over the world.
Unifying for change: the global youth voice at COP26
The event “Unifying for change: the global youth voice at COP26” was the occasion for the youth’s constituency YOUNGO (Youth-NGOs) and COY16 to present the Global Youth Statement, a political document aimed at raising the official voice of youth at COP26. The most important points are the following:
Climate finance and markets
- ensure the yearly allocation of the promised 100 billion to support developing countries and work for a more inclusive finance;
- disinvest from activities that are detrimental for the environment;
- adopt carbon pricing mechanisms in the shape of a progressive taxation of coal and market-based approaches.
- assure the access to clean and renewable energy;
- support developing countries through international cooperation and technological transfer;
- reduce the energy consumption and increase the use of renewable sources in the energy mix.
Adaptation and Loss&Damage
- establish a new financial support mechanism and make the Santiago Network operational;
- make Loss&Damage a permanent issue within negotiation agendas, producing and disseminating data to this end.
Climate justice and under-represented groups
- acknowledge that the climate crisis is a socio-political crisis;
- guarantee a real representation according to the principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion;
- invest in capacity building and financially support countries from the Global South.
Agriculture and Nature-based solutions
- protect, preserve, and restore natural CO2-absorption basins;
- transform the food system excluding intensive agricultural practices;
- support and include different stakeholders and their rights in decision-making processes.
Cities and local actions
- develop urban sustainable and innovative infrastructures;
- guarantee a just transition through an ambitious action at local level;
- create a Multi-Stakeholder platform to integrate youth in decision-making processes.
The interventions of institutional actors, present at the event, amplified these messages, raising the hope of the young people who contributed to the drafting. “We need you. Changes will not happen if we do not act together” affirmed the Executive Director of UNFCCC, Patricia Espinoza, great supporter of youth participation in decision-making processes. The COP26 President Alok Sharma focuses instead on the importance of a just energy transition, committing to guarantee the concrete allocation of the yearly 100 billion. The Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon pledged to do everything possible to fight climate change, because – she said – the leaders of her generation have not done enough to deserve the trust of youth and this time, failure is not an option.
“We need you. Changes will not happen if we do not act together”
Patricia Espinoza, Executive Director UNFCCC
The second crucial event was the presentation of the outcomes of the Youth4Climate event, organized by the Italian Ministry of Ecological Transition together with the COP26 UK Presidency. In a fully-booked conference room, the Ministry Roberto Cingolani affirmed that: “Youth4Climate has been an extraordinary experience for most youth involved in this process and an important learning experience for all of us. After the event held in Milan, the Youth4Climate Manifest has been signed by all 400 youth delegates and encompasses concrete ideas and proposals to face many urgent challenges posed by the climate crisis”. Especially, Youth4Climate’s youth clearly pointed out the need and request to end the use of fossil fuels by 2030 – an ambitious demand given the pre-COP prospects and scenarios.
“Italy is proud to announce that the Youth4Climate path is not ending here. We want to transform this experience into a permanent and stable platform to facilitate world’s youth involvement with government representatives and main stakeholders to discuss the challenges and the solutions to improve climate action. From protest to proposal. We call it Youth4Climate Forever”. The words of Cingolani confirm that the Youth4Climate will be proposed every year, providing youth from all over the world with a golden occasion of dialogue, confrontation, and participation.
At the event took part Patricia Espinoza, Alok Sharma and some of the 400 young leaders, who presented the manifest and asked decision-makers a set of questions about the implementation of their concrete proposals.
In the meantime, outside the COP, thousands of young people demonstrated to ask world leaders at COP26 a tangible change and an effective action. They look like two different worlds, but there is no contradiction between those streets and those negotiation rooms – the goal is the same: raising their voice to win the climate crisis challenge.
In the draft of the preamble of the COP26 political framework currently available, states seem to agree on including a specific reference to the outcomes of both youth processes, more precisely at point 63 of the text. States “appreciate” the work of youth, who on both occasions have expressed accurate and ambitious requests. An important acknowledgment, especially given the ambitious demands.
by Giulia Perisco, School Project Coordinator and COY16 Coordinator for Italy
You are reading this ICN COP Bulletin article as part of the EC DEAR SPARK project. Marirosa Iannelli, Coordinator of the Climate & Advocacy Department of ICN, overviews this activity. ICN monitors negotiations and reports what is happening in Italian and English, on our website and on social channels, as part of a pan-European consortium of over 20 non-profit organizations committed to promoting climate awareness with particular attention to the role of young people and issues related to international cooperation and gender policies.