By Karuna Rana, Coordinator, Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network
COP22, the ‘COP of Action’ as they call it, is meant to be key in detailing the implementation of the Paris Agreement that came into force on 04 November 2016. With that in mind, I went into COP22 eagerly looking forward to the outcome. Would it be another session – business as usual – of long climate negotiations or would we see strong commitment to move forward with the Paris Agreement implementation? I also wanted to see leaders truly engage young people within COP and beyond at the country level implementation processes.
What struck me at this COP, however, was the extent, quality and impact of climate action that young people have initiated post the adoption of the Paris Agreement. From hosting local workshops to popularise the Paris Agreement among young people, to a rigorous youth-led campaign that has resulted in a national ban on plastic bags in the Seychelles, young people are sending a strong signal: we’re ready to partner with governments and other key actors in implementing the Paris Agreement.
To mark the Young and Future Generations Day on 11 November, the Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network (CYCN) partnered with the Commonwealth Secretariat and the SIDS Youth AIMS Hub to convene an Inter-generational Climate Dialogue entitled ‘Walking the Talk’ at COP22 in Marrakesh, Morocco.
The dialogue provoked critical debates and exchange on expectations of COP22 and the role of young peoplein the Paris Agreement implementation process. Over 60 delegates, including officials from government, intergovernmental organisations, civil society, the private sector and young people themselves attended the event.
We were privileged to have high-level participation of three Commonwealth member states, namely Fiji, Seychelles and Zambia, as well as a representative from Climate Action Network International and the 2016 YOUNGO Focal Point to the UNFCCC.
Hon. Loyd Mulenga Kaziya, Minister of Water Development, Sanitation and Environmental Protection in Zambia, highlighted: “I am delighted to say that the high number of young parliamentarians in Zambia was instrumental in the accelerating Parliament’s decision to ratify the Paris Agreement last week.”
Krishneil Narayan, a young negotiator from Fiji, spoke of how his inclusion in the official delegation of his country had been key in ensuring a smooth transition from a youth activist to an actual country negotiator. Ambassador Ronald Jumeau, speaking on behalf of the Seychelles Government, concurred: “Governments should not just have youth as part of their delegations but also allow them to learn and represent their countries as negotiators in [these] sessions”.
It was also encouraging to hear from Denny Lewis-Bynoe, Head of Climate Finance at the Commonwealth Secretariat, who revealed that the newly launched Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, which is based in Mauritius, will explore how to engage with young people.
CYCN wants to make climate change a top priority for young people of the Commonwealth by giving them a credible platform to convene, exchange best practices, partner on new initiatives, and build their capacity to be effective advocates of climate change. At COP22, we brought together 50 youth delegates to shape and consolidate the Global Youth Position that will be submitted to global leaders this week.
Young people are brave. Our actions, often challenging political correctness and the status quo, will continue to inspire, revolutionise and change the mind-sets of policy makers towards a safer, resilient and more equitable world.
For more information, please contact:
Karuna Rana, Coordinator, Commonwealth Youth Climate Change Network – firstname.lastname@example.org.
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