A major highlight of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP27) was to ensure that the voices of the young and future generations were considered in conversations about climate and the environment. The Children and Youth Pavilion ensured that young people at the summit deepened the conversation by lending their voices to issues related to the climate change crisis plaguing communities around the world.
Two days after the 2022 conference was declared open, the first “Children and Youth Pavilion” in COP history kicked off in the COP27 Blue Zone hub of the conference. This gave young climate advocates from the city of Sharm El-Sheikh the opportunity to voice their concerns about the climate change negotiations.
The UN said the goal of creating a youth-driven pavilion was to contribute to greater visibility, participation and empowerment of the voices of children’s and youth networks and encourage their inclusion in the global climate conversation and policy-making.
“I depend on your voice. It is your future that we are supposed to be here to ensure. And it is only through your voices, your advocacy and your inspiration that they will be able to enjoy their right to make the most of the land, forests and air and live a long and prosperous future on our beautiful planet once governments commit. your responsibilities You are the future and it is your voice that will help deliver it,” says COP27 President Sameh Shoukry during a visit to the youth pavilion.
Throughout the two weeks of the summit, PREMIUM TIMES noted that the pavilion was well managed by children and youth from all continents at COP27. Enthusiasm, cheering and important talk about climate justice and youth inclusion in climate negotiations dominated the talks.
On many occasions, dozens of COP attendees and passers-by were drawn to the excitement that echoed from the stands of the Youth pavilion. At times, many would stop by to get a taste of the creative displays the youth were displaying within the pavilion premises and to listen to the featured guests they were hosting.
These activities caught the attention of those who unfolded their mobile phones to capture the unique moments in the youth pavilion.
Newly inaugurated Children and Youth Pavilion at COP27, Egypt COP27
This year, COP27 brought together more than 46,000 delegations from nearly 200 countries in Egypt for two weeks to drive sustainable action to combat climate change as the world continues to fight the existential scourge of climate fluctuations driven largely by activities. human.
Unlike previous COPs, this year’s conference was extended after negotiations stalled over terms requiring wealthy polluters (developed countries) to provide funds for “loss and damage,” a major agenda put forward by the Group African Negotiators, for countries ruined by climate. disasters, as well as increasing ambition in the fight against global warming.
Similarly, the European Union flatly rejected a paper submitted by Egypt overnight out of concern that it was weak at curbing emissions. But after several hours of negotiations, a landmark Sharm El-Sheikh Implementation Plan (SHIP) was reached on November 19, setting out funding for loss and damage.
The new fund will see donors contribute to a global fund to save lives and livelihoods from climate change-related disasters, organizers said.
The UN said COP27 saw significant progress on adaptation, with governments agreeing on how to move forward on the Global Adaptation Goal, which will conclude at COP28 and inform the first Global Stocktake, improving resilience among the most vulnerable.
Meanwhile, new pledges, totaling more than $230 million, were made to the Adaptation Fund at COP27.
These commitments, organizers said, will help many more vulnerable communities adapt to climate change through concrete adaptation solutions.
How young people shaped the COP27 negotiations
On several occasions throughout the theme days of the summit, young people took to the streets and the summit grounds calling for climate justice, protesting superficial commitments and demonstrating against political inaction.
Likewise, many young negotiators from Africa were also pushing for a seat at the negotiating table so that their concerns and aspirations would be heard and addressed.
UN Climate Change (UNFCCC) Executive Secretary Simon Stiell also recognized the vibrant presence and participation of youth at COP27 as he delivered his closing remarks at the summit.
“Climate advocates, led by the moral voice of youth, have kept the agenda moving through the darkest of days. They must be protected. To all of them I say that we share their frustration. But we need them now more than ever,” Stiell said.
Unlike the stories from the Sinai Peninsula, the UN official said the world cannot expect a miracle from the top of a mountain.
“It will take each and every one of us fighting in the trenches every day,” he said.
Young Africans at COP27 share their experiences and concerns
During the two weeks of intense engagement between the negotiators, the issues related to food security, innovative finance, just transition, investment in the future of energy (green hydrogen, climate change and the sustainability of vulnerable communities) and Water security took center stage in the six roundtables presented at the high-level events of the summit.
But climate justice, the effective implementation of persistent promises and greater youth participation in climate change negotiations are the main concerns of many young Africans at this year’s COP.
“They cannot decide for us, we want to enter into negotiations, we want to make the decisions, we want to get involved in the formulation and implementation of policies and we want to be collaborators and co-designers of solutions to the effects of climate change. change we are facing,” Rose Kobusinge, 26, a Uganda-based climate justice advocate, told PREMIUM TIMES in an interview.
Rose Kobusinge, 26, a Uganda-based climate justice advocate at the children and youth pavilion at COP27 in Egypt
Although negotiations at COP27 were still ongoing, Ms. Kobusinge regretted feeling a bit discouraged that promises made at last year’s COP went largely unfulfilled.
Despite having a youth pavilion for the first time at COP27, he said there is still not much freedom for young people to express themselves as they wish.
For his part, Lucky Abeng, research officer at the Climate and Sustainable Development Network, said that the climate negotiation space is not as open to youth as expected at COP27.
Mr. Lucky Abeng. [PHOTO CREDIT: Abdulkareem Mojeed]The climate justice advocate says he came to the COP along with other young people to demand financing for loss and damage, adaptation financing for Africa, climate financing and also the consideration of Africa as a country with special needs.
Furthermore, the co-founder of the International Climate Change Development Initiative, Olumide Idowu, who is also one of Nigeria’s young negotiators at this year’s COP, expressed reservations. He said that he himself and other young people around the world called for greater inclusion of youth in the climate discussion and how their government delegations would talk about loss and damage, adaptation and climate finance.
That, he said, has been the most important conversation shaping this year’s summit.
“I am not impressed with the participation of the youth in Nigeria,” Idowu told PREMIUM TIMES.
“We still need a lot of work to do so that we can show more of the local climate-driven actions that Nigeria is doing.”
Mr. Idowu while speaking at the Nigerian pavilion at Cop. [PHOTO CREDIT: Abdulkareem Mojeed]He urged the government to look into youth participation and that it should be one of the key elements to consider during pre-COP arrangements. This, Mr. Idowu said, would enhance full participation in activities at the Nigerian pavilion at Cop.
“Doing so will help young people to have a collaborative experience to make their implementation at home more global,” he said.
Another young negotiator from Nigeria, Lauritta Boniface, co-founder of Ecocycle Limited, also shared her experience in the negotiating room and in plenary.
She said she saw other young people like her in the negotiating room at this year’s police meeting presenting their country’s position and trying to influence leaders to agree to a human-centred decision that leaves no one behind. .
Mrs. Boniface while speaking in the pavilion. [PHOTO CREDIT: Abdulkareem Mojeed]“I think this is the last generation to fight for climate change in the world,” he added.
More young Africans speak
Like several other young Africans, Patricia Kombo, a Kenyan-based environmentalist, expressed mixed feelings about the COP27 processes.
Originally as a young Kenyan, she said she is happy with the creation of a youth pavilion at this year’s summit because now they have a space where they can share their “experiences” and a safe space where they (the youth) don’t feel intimidated.
However, she said she is heartbroken that leaders come to the COP to make sweet remarks, but when the conference is over, often nothing is done to deliver on commitments.
“So I feel like it’s not worth promising? And I think I’m losing hope in the whole process,” said Ms. Kombo.
Similarly, the Coordinator of the Children and Youth Pavilion at COP27, Saad Uakkas (Morocco), said that the youth at this year’s COP are more powerful than last year.
He said they have more young people in the negotiating room working with different organizations that are amplifying the voices of young people.
Saad Uakkas in the children’s ward. [PHOTO CREDIT: Abdulkareem Mojeed]“Now we have more countries in the negotiating room, including young people as negotiators, and that is what we are pushing for,” he said.
He said that as youth at the COP they are demanding more funding and mechanisms for loss and damage.
“Our countries are suffering. People at the local level are struggling, which is why we need climate finance. We need adaptation to be considered so that we can help our brothers and sisters in local and indigenous communities to cope with the impacts and consequences of climate change,” said Mr. Uakkas.