ABU DHABI, 30th October, 2023 (WAM) — A key event held at the Emirate Palace in Abu Dhabi has highlighted the aspirations and demands of hundreds of thousands of young climate leaders from around the world, setting the stage for COP28.
The roundtable convened members of various programs, YOUNGO representatives (the Children and Youth Constituency of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) including the COP28 Youth Climate Champion, UNICEF advocates, H.E. Shamma Al Mazrui, and the COP International Youth Climate Delegates Program (IYCDP), which is bringing 100 youth from severely climate impacted and underrepresented communities to the COP, and the UAE Youth Delegate Program. The UN Deputy Secretary General Amina J. Mohammed also attended the event.
They gathered to discuss the Global Youth Statement (GYS), a representative policy document produced annually that is built on consensus among global youth, aggregating the demands, insights, expectations and policy proposals of young individuals, youth organisations and institutions from over 150 countries.
The GYS is the result of intensive policy consultations conducted by YOUNGO, as well as from the integration of policy statements from local and regional Conferences of Youth (LCOYs & RCOYs). These have been organised by YOUNGO in collaboration with youth organisations in 110 countries in the lead-up to the global Conference of the Youth (COY18) which will take place between the 26 and the 28th of November 2023.
The inputs received were synthesised to present clear climate policy demands across the COP28 negotiation tracks and beyond, ranging from climate mitigation and adaptation, finance, and energy, to loss and damage and climate justice. It calls for an inclusive approach to climate governance that acknowledges the disproportionate impact of the climate crisis on the Global South and vulnerable communities, including youth, and underlines the need for systemic and radical action.
Further analysis, evaluation, and finalisation of the statement will follow, with aim for the proposals to be considered and integrated into the COP28 deliberations and beyond by governments nationally.
This year, the Global Youth Statement condensed demands were presented during the Pre-COP stage for the first time, instead of mid-COP as in previous COPs. This initial release will be a condensed version in UN aligned Language, to allow for parties and negotiators to have a more actionable document, at an earlier point in time. This change aims to improve the effectiveness of incorporating the requests of the youth into the negotiation process.
The event emphasises the COP28 Presidency’s commitment to transparency and open dialogue by involving youth and children in all major climate policy discussions throughout 2023, including the crucial Pre-COP. During the event, YOUNGO representatives presented their recommendations to Her Excellency Shamma Al Mazrui, the Youth Climate Champion for COP28, discussing various key thematic areas outlined in the Global Youth Statement.
“The COP28 Presidency is committed to achieving unprecedented youth and children’s inclusion in international UN climate change negotiations. We have been diligently working on a series of initiatives to offer comprehensive support to youth at every stage of the COP process. Over the past year, the YCC has engaged with young people from across the globe to ensure that their voices are integrated throughout the entire COP28 process, with the aspiration for this to become the expectation for future years as well” H.E. Al Mazrui said.
“We have presented today the condensed policy demands of thousands of young people that were involved in the process within the Global Youth Statement and urge Parties to take action based on them during their negotiations at COP28, as they provide practical and comprehensive proposals that are actionable for the negotiation table and in the local perspective for parties. We appreciate the emphasis on youth participation by the Presidency, but for this engagement to be meaningful, they need to be integrated in the COP final outcomes,” the YOUNGO policy team stated.
YOUNGO has been crafting a position statement in preparation for COP since 2005 in Montreal. Since COP25, this effort has expanded and evolved into an extensive process of collecting and synthesising inputs from children and youth representing countries worldwide. This aims to produce a more holistic, inclusive, and consensus-based set of proposals to represent youth around the world.
For COP26, approximately 130 countries participated in the institutional and individual inputs were collected. However, for COP28, it is anticipated that the number will exceed 150 countries in both qualitative and quantitative inputs. In the previous year, over 130 countries contributed to the statement, and the goal is to involve all UN member states in the COP28 statement. On the quantitative side, this year also there was a partnership with the U-REPORT under UNICEF HQ.
This growth underscores the scale and increasing importance of the Global Youth Statement and the dedication of the youth climate movement to providing meaningful contributions to the multilateral climate negotiations.
The GYS aims to amplify all voices under the age of 35, with a special emphasis on youth from most vulnerable communities such as indigenous peoples, those with disabilities, and communities at highest risk.
The COP28 Presidency strives to place youth perspectives at the core of global policymaking, setting a model for future COPs.
Meanwhile, the YCC is the first position within the higher COP leadership to ensure the meaningful participation and representation of youth in international climate decision-making and mobilise substantive youth input and outcomes from the COP and UNFCCC processes.