Youth climate change delegates from around the world have been gathering in Bonn to share ideas, coordinate their efforts and urge negotiators meeting in Bonn, Germany over the next two weeks to take strong climate action in order to safeguard their future.
At a the first ever ACE (Action for Climate Empowerment) Youth Forum at the week-end, just before the start of the 2018 UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, youth delegates from 70 countries came up with a wide range of suggestions“Youth are an essential part of the climate change solution, so the youth must be active and heard in the international negotiations,” said United Nations Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, at the forum. “The role of the youth constituency is growing, and this is good for the international negotiating process and for the planet.”
Break-out groups at the forum brainstormed on ways to increase the effectiveness of ACE activities. Suggestions included linking youth ACE activities internationally, supporting ACE national focal points, pushing for more funding for ACE activities and holding ACE festivals to create interest and awareness about the need for climate action.
These and other points will be combined, refined and put before government negotiators at a workshop from where they could find their way into negotiating text and a possible draft decision on ACE destined for consideration when nations meet in Katowice, Poland, in December of this year.
The ACE Youth Forum was an idea of Fiji, which holds the presidency Conference of the Parties (COP), since the 23rd COP, held in Bonn in November 2017. Mr. Inia Seruiratu, High-level Climate Champion and Fiji’s Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management and Meteorological Services, told delegates: “Our young people the world over are powerful agents for change. The stakes couldn’t be higher.”
“Fiji is urging the global community to commit itself to achieving the most ambitious goal of the Paris Agreement, which is to limit the average global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius above that of the pre-industrial age.
“To achieve this, young people the world over must demand action. To raise their voices and force their politicians to take the tough decisions that are necessary. And also point out the wonderful opportunities that are out there if we make the shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy, and fast-track the development of the emerging technologies,” he added.
Under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, countries recognised the critical importance of education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information and international cooperation to the success in tackling climate change. The youth constituency is central to the work.
“This forum is unprecedented in the way it brought together non-State actors, youths – more than half from the global South – UN Climate Change and the presidency of the Conference of the Parties to help shape matters under negotiation,” said Yugratna Srivastava, a youth co-organiser of the ACE Youth Forum. “The process is moving in the right direction.”
In Paris in 2015, countries committed to limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius and to work towards the safer target of 1.5 degrees Celsius. Countries are now negotiating the Paris Agreement Work Programme, which they plan to adopt in Katowice.
The YOUNGO (youth NGO) constituency took the lead in organising the ACE Youth Forum, which was co-organised by UN Climate Change and United Nations Development Programme and supported financially by the Government of Canada.