By Sian Evans and Casey Catherine Miller
Today it’s Youth and Futures Day at COP 23, and my first full day at the conference – a fitting time to get stuck-in as a YEL delegate.
As a newcomer to the COP process, it’s encouraging to see the level of youth engagement here. Representation of youth at COPs has grown significantly over the years, with most youth participation taking place at the civil society level, and the importance of this was discussed today during a dialogue between various youth groups and the UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa.
Espinosa spoke of the efforts taking place to educate youth on climate change issues and engage them in the decision making process, but also acknowledged there is a gap to be bridged. Capacity building support is needed to equip youth with the skills and knowledge to effectively participate in negotiations, and to facilitate youth engagement at the policy-making level. This is particularly the case for youth representatives from the global south
While Young and Future Generations Day was the perfect time to highlight the benefit of increased youth involvement in the COP process, youth had to share the spotlight with another thematic day — Business and Industry. Various youth organizations used this overlap to speak out on their issues with conflict of interest between industry representatives promoting environmentally damaging industries and the ultimate goals of the Paris Agreement. One activist action highlighted this issues through a mock auction, where the interests of youth were bought and sold by “businessmen” with unfettered access to the negotiations.
It’s clear that the youth at COP23 are passionate and ready to fight for their cause, yet there needs to be further capacity building to allow youth involvement to be more effective and meaningful. Hopefully by COP24 this is something that is accomplished.
Sian Evans is a member of the COP23 Delegation for Young European Leadership. She is a Project Manager at the Office of the Quartet, an international organization supporting Palestinian economic development, and is passionate about sustainable development and the clean energy transition.
Casey Catherine Miller is a the delegation lead for Young European Leadership. A recent Environmental Science MSc graduate, she is passionate about environmental education and communication, youth capacity building, and sustainable development. www.caseycatherine.com.
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