COP28 UAE Presidency Launches International Youth Climate Delegate Program
The 28th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP28 UAE) Presidency has launched a new global program, the 'International Youth Climate Delegate Program' (International YCDP), at the ‘Road to COP28’ event held at Expo City Dubai.
The event was attended by His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan; H.E Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, President-Designate of COP28 UAE; H.E. Reem Al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation, H.E. Shamma Al Mazrui, Minister of Community Development and COP28 Youth Climate Champion; H.E. Mariam Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment; and H.E. Razan Al Mubarak, COP28 UAE UN Climate Change High-Level Champion.
Focused on themes including participation, action, voice, and education, ‘Road to COP28’ was a day-long event with a range of activities such as climate-focused workshops, youth circles, youth debates, intergenerational dialogue, and a climate leaders panel.
More than 3,000 members of the community attended, including the COP28 leadership team, UAE Ministers, students, youth in national service, youth climate advocates, senior citizens, people of determination, green business owners, farmers, entertainers, and volunteers.
Elevating the voices, perspectives, and priorities of the global youth in the multilateral COP process, the International YCDP will select 100 youth delegates primarily from least developed countries (LDC) and small island developing states (SIDS), to participate in climate negotiations and related public-private partnership initiatives.
The program will also target indigenous peoples and minority groups and will provide financial support and capacity-building exercises for those selected to participate.
To ensure that youth views and proposals are integrated into global climate policymaking, the International YCDP will help to build skills, knowledge, and networks among youth, particularly those in the most vulnerable countries, to engage in the climate process.
It will also provide a model for the COP process on youth inclusion, with a vision to construct a sustainable youth engagement structure for future generations.
Sponsored by the COP28 Youth Climate Champion team and the COP28 Presidency, the program will be jointly coordinated with all elements with youth-led organizations, including YOUNGO, the official Children and Youth Constituency of the UNFCCC.
The program is designed to prominently highlight the needs and policy proposals of youth in global climate decision-making, build climate capacity, knowledge, and networks among youth, and establish a model for equitable youth inclusion in all future COPs.
H.E. Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, President-Designate of COP28 UAE, said: “Young people are at the forefront of addressing the climate challenge. They are leading the way by sharing their perspectives, bringing their creativity and contributing to the positive impact that the world needs.
"As future leaders, future scientists, future entrepreneurs, and future climate activists, their energy and youth is what will make the difference.
"The International Youth Climate Delegate Program – the largest initiative of its kind – will empower young people from around the world to fully participate in the COP process, and give a special focus to those from least developed countries and small island states.”
H.E. Shamma Al Mazrui, UAE’s Minister of Community Development and COP28 UAE Youth Climate Champion (YCC), will work with YOUNGO to deliver the largest initiative aimed at expanding youth participation from underrepresented countries in the climate process to date.
In her YCC role, she will elevate the global youth voice and advocate for youth policies throughout the COP process, ensuring that young people’s capacity-building and needs on the ground are prioritized.
This is in recognition of the need to empower young people in the climate action process and capitalize on the innovative ideas, skills, and abilities of the world’s nearly two billion children and youth.
H.E. Shamma Al Mazrui, COP28 Youth Climate Champion and UAE Minister of Community Development, said: “Meaningful youth empowerment is a critical pillar towards the success of COP28.
"This is because we recognize that the energy and ingenuity young people bring to the table are key drivers in propelling momentum, and provide groundbreaking solutions needed to invigorate the pathway towards our 2030 goals.
"The COP28 Presidency will build platforms that connect youth to policymakers and decision-makers, ensuring that they have a voice in the multilateral climate processes. We are committed to delivering the most inclusive COP to date, working collaboratively with youth delegates to raise ambitions at COP28 UAE.”
During and following the YCDP, the delegates will be able to conduct consultations with other young people based in their countries of origin, before the UNFCCC intersessional in June and COP28 at the end of November.
They will also be involved in events such as youth circles to enable direct dialogue with policymakers.
The 100 International Youth Climate Delegates will closely follow the UNFCCC negotiation processes over the year, gathering inputs and shared goals from their home country to build a youth-focused strategic plan and policy vision for COP.
Prior to COP28, they will also participate in the Conference of Youth. In addition, a small number of delegates will also be invited to participate in other critical moments in the climate calendar including the SB58 UNFCCC Intersessional in June 2023 to be held in Bonn, Germany, the Pre-COP in October, and the UN Regional Climate Weeks.
In a statement, YOUNGO shared: “Young people, especially those from vulnerable communities, are at the forefront of being burdened by the climate crisis.
"Their voices and perspectives must be the focus at international negotiation spaces. Their views added to decision-making processes would set a path to a more sustainable and equitable future.
"This is why we are collaborating with the COP28 UAE Presidency on the International Youth Climate Delegate Program to advance equitable, fair, and innovative youth engagement in climate policy processes.”
Applications for the International YCDP are now open through the online portal and will close by 7 April. The review of applications and interviews will be facilitated by YOUNGO.
The program will run from May through to December, with youth delegates participating and providing input into the negotiation process to set priorities for the climate agenda in the 18th UN Climate Change Conference of Youth (COY18) and COP28 from November 30 to December 12 at Expo City Dubai.
During the process, youth delegates will also undergo training to build clear policy targets for COP and will be expected to gather perspectives and bring learning back to their wider communities in their countries.
Shortlisted applications will be invited to final interviews in April, with the selected delegates announced in early May.