COP18 Blog: The youth on climate change.

La Trobe Institute for Social and Environmental Sustainability

Blog No.4 – Day 3, COP18. Doha, Qatar. Wednesday, 28 November

By Professor Simon Molesworth

Youth participation in Climate Change negotiations

Simon Blog 4 ImageIn the 3 days immediately before the commencement of COP18, Doha hosted the 8th global Conference of Youth (CDY8). This annual  CDY was observed by a writer for the UK Youth Climate Coalition as having evolved to become a central feature in the International Youth Climate Movement, saying that it provides a platform by which young campaigners can stand together in pursuit of a clean, fair future.

As was reported in “Outreach” : “The breadth of experience being shared and the length of time devoted to these workshops (which provided a beginner’s guide to the UNFCCC, an introduction to key terms and themes, and training skills to engage more effectively with the negotiations) reflect the nature of the YOUNGO, the constituency of youth NGOs within the UNFCCC. …. The diversity of our backgrounds, perspectives and skills is our primary strength that we are nurturing here at CDY.  ….. and is something that will continue to be on display throughout COP18.

Observers of the CDY this year say that one of the most significant advances for this annual gathering is the presence of a new Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) that was launched on the international stage about eleven weeks prior to the COP. This new youth climate movement from the Arab world has within it a constituency of 16 Arab countries, the national coordinators of which all attended CDY in preparation for COP18.

The Qatari Government was described in the Gulf Times with having facilitated the youth climate movement by supporting not only local Qatari youth to participate in the COP but also by funding over 200 youth drawn from 14 countries in the Arab region, giving them an opportunity to  actively participate in the COP. The chairman of the COP Organising sub-Committee, Fahad bin Mohamed al-Attiya, was quoted confirming that $400,000 has been spent to cover all the expenses of the 200 young Arabs to attend the COP, with them being provided with training at different institutions, such as Qatar University and the Qatar Foundation International, and to different skills levels so as enable them to actively participate.       

I have noticed at the COP so far and in the program for the forthcoming days that there are many youth focused Side Events aimed at highlighting youth climate change action, obviously intended to inspire and provide up-skilling opportunity for young people to become more active in their climate change work. As just one example, one Side Event “Land for Life Award: Youth Mobilization Strategies” challenged those attending the workshop with the following promotion: “Ever mobilized a million people for change? Looking for ideas to penetrate the school system? Has the lack of resources held you back? Come learn new mobilization skills from three award winning stories from Haiti, Turkey and Uganda”.

At this side event, Ms Emily Davila, who works on the Land for Life Award Project at the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, described how she uses social media to achieve mass mobilization. She described a launch of a new initiative on the 13th December following the COP which involves a global youth and children media campaign focused on “going land degradation neutral”.  The UNFCCC Secretariat has produced two comprehensive and informative booklets which were distributed at the COP, being publications of the United Nations Joint Framework Initiative on Children, Youth and Climate Change: “Growing Together in a Changing Climate” and “Youth Participation in the UNFCCC Negotiation Process”.  

More of Simon's COP18 Blogs are located here.