Young Change-Makers from More Than 140 Countries Make a Mark at COY17
Over a thousand young people from more than 140 countries closed out the three-day Climate Change Conference of Youth (COY17) just days before the official opening of the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
The Climate Change Conference of Youth is an annual event under the banner of YOUNGO – the Official Youth Constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Its 17th edition was organized and led by five Egyptian youth organizations namely: Act—Sustainable, El Emam Foundation, Enviro-X, Youthink Green Egypt, and Youth Loves Egypt, with the support of the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports and endorsed by the COP President Designate.
“Young people are the Plan A and only plan in this most difficult moment, and their voices are needed to fight against backsliding, delay or deprioritization of climate action,” said Ambassador Aboulmagd added, the COP27 President Special Representative.
Featuring 68 workshops, panel discussions and side events held over three days, COY serves as a space for capacity building and policy development to prepare young people for their participation at COP, thereby empowering them and formally bringing their voices to the UNFCCC processes.
The key outcome of COY17 is a policy document called the Global Youth Statement, a comprehensive text providing youth input to world leaders on the steps they believe should be taken to advance climate action.
The 66-page policy document provides detailed advice on a range of topics from mitigation and adaptation to just transition and financing, including a call for a loss and damage facility.
“From heat waves across Europe to droughts across Africa and massive flooding in Asia, the past year of extreme weather events have served as another wake-up call for humanity,” the text reads.
“Global Youth urges political leaders to take heed, take charge, and take action. We have no more time to lose. Our future literally depends on it.” The statement was presented to the incoming Egypt COP Presidency on the final day of COY17.
“We welcome the great work done to produce a rich, comprehensive and detailed policy statement that we consider a very important input to the COP negotiations and its outcomes,” said Ambassador Wael Aboulmagd, Special Representative of the Egypt COP27 Presidency.
He was delivering a statement on behalf of the incoming COP President. The Egypt COP Presidency has taken a number of steps to ensure that the youth constituency is playing a key role in COP27.
These include the first ever Youth Climate Pavilion and Youth-led Climate Forum, the creation of a full Young and Future Generations day co-created and implemented with YOUNGO, and the establishment of a COP27 Presidency Youth Envoy, Dr Omnia El Omrani.
“The biggest issue we want to address is climate justice and intergenerational equity,” said Dr Omrani.
“As the largest demographic on Earth, we are disproportionately impacted by the physical and mental health impacts of climate change. At the same time, we contribute the least in the decision-making process, so we don’t want to be excluded. We want and deserve to be meaningfully engaged.”
“As young people we are in the forefront facing climate change consequences and we have a major role to influence global attention and commitment,” said Saad Ukkas, program co-lead of the first-ever COP Children and Youth Pavilion.
Organizers of the COY and the youth agenda at COP were clear about the critical importance of creating a formal link between youth voices and the COP process.
“COY17 represented a leap transformation point in the role of youth in enforcing climate action across the global climate agenda,” said Abdelrahman Fahmy, Managing Partner, youthinkgreen Egypt.
“History will remember this COY hosted by Egypt as the igniting point for youth driven implementation.”
The key findings of the policy paper will be introduced via two roundtables under the Youth-led Climate Forum on Young and Future Generations Day on November 10 at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh.
For the first time ever, this youth statement will find its way to the COP Presidency’s Action Agenda where youth representatives, Ministers and negotiators will discuss the expectations and the demands agreed by the youth activists.
“Youth participation needs to be integrated into a holistic vision of climate change governance for deeper structural changes to take effect,” said Claudia Ondo, National Coordinator of YouthConnekt Gabon.
“This requires accepting the sharing of power between young people and adults. And it means letting us speak our minds, tell our stories and offer our solutions to achieve a resilient future and climate-neutral society.”
In addition to providing programmatic linkages between the youth constituency and the formal UNFCCC process, the incoming COP Presidency provided financial support for youth to attend COY17.
“Not only did COY17 finalize the 2022 Global Youth Statement it also saw youth finding new knowledge, connections and funding to implement their creative solutions, especially dynamic new initiatives coming from young Egyptians,” said Xan Northcott, Global North Focal Point, Children and Youth Constituency to UNFCCC.