Youth Take Centre Stage at COP26

Photo-illustration: Pixabay

Young climate leaders came together with negotiators, officials and ministers from across the world at COP26 on 5 November, demanding that their voices be heard and translated into the action needed to prevent catastrophic climate change in our lifetimes.

Events across COP26 and on the streets of Glasgow focused on harnessing the expertise of young people to accelerate global action on climate change. A further mass demonstration is planned for 6 November.

YOUNGO, the Official Children’s and Youth constituency of the UNFCCC opened with a session called Unifying for Change: Global Youth voice at COP26. YOUNGO also presented the COY16 Global Youth Position statement, representing the views of over 40,000 young climate leaders from across the world.

“Young People do not want to hear talking but to see action,” said Jan Kairel Guillermo, a youth advocate at the World Meteorological Organization and part of the YOUNGO delegation which met with COP26 President Alok Sharma and UNFCCC Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa. “We have listened enough for all these years,” said Guillermo, who supports outreach to the youth network in the WMO-spearheaded Water and Climate Coalition.

The YOUNGO delegation highlighted demands in areas including agriculture, loss and damage, energy, cities, mobility and transportation and health, and above all for more youth inclusion.

“Wherever I have been in the world, I have been struck by the passion and the commitment of young people to climate action. The voices of young people must be heard and reflected in these negotiations here at COP. The actions and scrutiny of young people are key to us keeping 1.5 alive and creating a net-zero future. I am also aware of the fear and anger many of them feel about the future of the planet, including my own children,” said COP26 President Sharma.

YOUNGO Global Focal Points, Heeta Lakhani and Marie-Claire Graf said they had worked closely with the U.K. Presidency and the UNFCCC Secretariat to co-design Youth and Public Empowerment Day. They have proposed a paragraph to be included in the negotiated outcome of COP26.

“We successfully profiled global youth voices through the COY16 Global Youth Statement, and brought together four generations to share best practice examples of achieving climate justice collectively.”

Source: WMO