italian climate network youth for climate greta thunberg

Youth4climate: what is happening in the room

By Jacopo Bencini, Policy Advisor and UNFCCC contact point

Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg looks on as she speaks during the Youth4Climate pre-COP26 conference in Milan, Italy, September 28, 2021. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

Please avoid empty statements. Immediately raise the level of international climate ambition, through serious and precise commitments and not just generic sentences on the common good. The effect of the two speeches of Greta Thunberg and Vanessa Nakate at the opening of the proceedings yesterday was felt here on Milan, at Youth4climate. The almost 400 youth delegates from all over the world began the second day of work this morning in view of tomorrow, September 30, when their proposals will end up on the table of the preCOP national delegates ahead of COP26.

We got to know some youth delegates on the sidelines of the first day of work and each of them, regardless of country and region of origin, brought us a clear message: the requests of young people will be strong and ambitious, to really push the process as far as possible and to make it clear to national delegates, governments, “adults”, that young people are experiencing an irrepressible urgency and are ready to do anything to make themselves heard.

The young delegates are divided into four thematic working groups, we talked about it in a previous article. At the end of the first day of work, it seems that the strongest proposals have come from the group on the issues of economy, finance, support for mitigation actions. From what we know, it seems that in the drafts under consideration today there is a strong demand for net zero emissions at a global level already by 2030. Young people ask: is this really an impossible target?

Yesterday the Minister of Ecological Transition, Roberto Cingolani, invited the young participants to bring proposals and not just requests, and it seems that the delegates understood this very well. Already from the preparatory work during the summer, they tell us, attention was paid to translating each new goal or request into a series of practical points on which paths to take to make them achievable. Conversations in the working groups are mainly about: climate finance and cooperation with the most vulnerable countries, support for renewable energy, transition, green jobs and professional training, fight against greenwashing in corporate social responsibility, active participation of communities in decision-making processes, participation of state, non-state and private actors.

In these hours there is a struggle against time to finalize the drafts and make them as punctual and concrete as possible before tomorrow’s meeting with governments. This, in fact, is the main objective on which, we are told, young people of all nationalities immediately agreed: to be truly incisive in the decision-making process. Ambition and concreteness.

You are reading this ICN COP Bulletin article is part of the EC DEAR SPARK project. 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.

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