by Shrina Kurani and Alexander Pfeiffer
This morning the general sense was that the first week of COP22 is slowly winding down, but it turned out the ‘Young and Future Generations’ Day’ was just charging up. The young seem to have rebounded first after the travesty of the U.S. election, and this thematic day’s highlight event provided an energetic start in the day.
The ‘Intergenerational Inquiry by the UNFCCC’ was the flagship event of the day and many young people attended and got fired up. Some notables, such as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Haiti, Sharon Campbell even conceded that “maybe we’re too old” so every attendee had a clear sense that young people have a place in the negotiations – so why did the event still feel like a sham?
“This event is an excellent opportunity for youth delegates from around the world to engage with key players in the intergovernmental climate change arena. This year’s inquiry will focus on role of youth in implementing the Paris Agreement.“ The daily programme gave youth delegates the mic. The Inquiry never plugged it in.
The session that immediately followed was on financial, technical, and institutional support for scaling up youth climate action, and the room emptied to just the first two rows. If you weren’t in the first two rows, here’s two things you missed:
1. Methods for getting involved
Crowdfunding, which tends to be underutilized for the climate but is actually really useful for reaching out to millennials. Social entrepreneurship made a strong and vibrant stand with Ari Eisenstat from Dream Ventures, supported by Alexandra Akira in that there is a growing use of technology and market mechanisms for climate change mitigation and adaption. Akira was also the champion for reaching out to private corporations for funding and support (I could almost feel the audience cringe).
2. The “Comments” Section
It’s always the best part, isn’t it? A few delegates from the global south spoke up about fair representation. In response to a question from the audience about even YOUNGO leaving the global south behind, a representative from Mauritius stood up to talk about the strong movement that’s evolving in her country, including hosting their own COY. And I think THAT is representative of what we need to do to be heard – to not be complacent and let our [insert label here] get left out.
We, as the generation that will be building careers and raising families in this rapidly changing climate era, must have a clear vision: to plug the mic in and turn the volume up. And not just at the COP22 or any other future COP — we need to do this within our own communities, our social networks, our homes. It is our responsibility to elbow our way into negotiations, and also sit our parents down at the dinner table.
There is tension and mismatch in current youth climate movements, from de-growth to social entrepreneurship, from divestment to private funding, but that makes the greater movement even more robust. Because the solution is not exclusive to any one of them: if there’s one thing I learned today, there’s no silver bullet for climate change mitigation and adaptation, especially when you’ve got the whole world weighing in on it.
Shrina is a delegate of the Young European Leadership’s delegation to COP22 and a budding entrepreneur in Silicon Valley and Berlin, with a focus on the food-water-energy nexus
Alex is the head of Young European Leadership’s delegation to the COP and a doctorate student at the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) at the Oxford Martin School