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Empowering the Future: A youth perspective on COP28


INTRODUCTION

The article examines the importance of youth in shaping responses to build our world sustainably. The conference is the world’s forum where stakeholders engage in deliberating on environmental challenges and mitigation measures. The article speaks on the influence power which comes with the youth in the demanding sustainability and greener shifts within the global economic scene. Young activists have been partnering with other people through community-based climate resilience initiatives and renewable energy projects to leave a greener earth for future generations. Thus, COP28 presents a possibility of bridging between different generations of perceptions and opinions.


Brief overview of COP28 (Conference of the Parties)

COP28, the 28th UN Climate Change Conference, takes place from November 11 to December 14, 2023, in Dubai, UAE. The global summit aims to unite nations in combating climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

As the largest multilateral gathering, COP28 focuses on achieving the 1.5°C target through formal talks, official meetings, and a spotlight on empowering youth and showcasing innovative climate solutions.

The program emphasizes practical measures for climate justice, financing, and universal energy access. This conference aims at bolstering quickening the energy change process as well as lowering the emission level before 2030, thereby envisaging an increase of renewable capacities threefold and doubling existing energy-efficient stocks of sources till 2030. It will work towards the implementation of a loss and damage fund to support the state’s efforts to counter the unrecoverable impacts of global warming to deliver funds to climate-endangered communities within developing nations by 2025 at the latest. 


Importance of youth engagement in addressing climate change

Youth engagement is crucial in the fight against climate change as they will inherit the most significant impacts. Their unique perspectives and creative ideas inspire effective change. Closing the generation gap and involving youth in decision-making improves climate change effectiveness. Actively engaging youth in meaningful environmental actions is essential to address the uneven impacts of climate change on the young. Recognizing this, the UN emphasizes the importance of hearing youth voices, educating all generations, and celebrating progress to create hope and motivate action.


The Role of Youth in Climate Action

Youth engagement in climate action is crucial due to their significant contributions and vulnerability to climate change. Seen as innovators and change agents, they bring technical expertise, moral values, and equity considerations to the climate conversation. Through various programs, including awareness campaigns, education, and behavioural initiatives, young people actively contribute to climate mitigation and adaptation. To support their role as partners, it's essential to enhance formal and informal climate education and promote sustainable practices. In decision-making, the voices of young people must be included, and mechanisms should be established to hold governments accountable. Overall, youth engagement is pivotal for driving climate action and securing a sustainable future.


OVERVIEW OF THE YOUTH CLIMATE MOVEMENT



The Youth Climate Movement is a global initiative led by young people addressing environmental sustainability and climate change. Through rallies, strikes, and various activities, it aims to advocate for carbon emission reduction and systemic change, and hold leaders accountable. Notable initiatives include UNICEF's Youth for Climate Action, the UN's Youth in Action, the Re-Earth Initiative, and Zero Hour, along with educational and awareness campaigns. Overall, the youth climate movement is vital for driving climate action and ensuring a sustainable future.


Youth-led initiatives 

Youth mobilization has been instrumental in shaping climate measures, influencing presidential agendas and boosting climate awareness through media. Young people have played a key role in expanding climate finance and impacting legislative efforts, such as the Civilian Climate Corps in the United States. Their initiatives enable active participation in decision-making and promote low-carbon lifestyles. While youth-led projects have driven climate activism and influenced policy, it's crucial to address the underfunding of youth-led climate justice programs and invest further in their actions.


Importance of incorporating diverse youth voices in global climate discussions

Incorporating diverse young voices in global climate debates is essential for a more inclusive and equitable approach. It brings varied perspectives, experiences, and knowledge to decision-making, addressing inequities and ensuring vulnerable populations are considered. Youth involvement sparks innovation and accelerates the development of effective climate solutions, encouraging them to take ownership and become agents of change. Engaging diverse young voices fosters intergenerational collaboration, bridging age gaps and considering future generations' concerns. Prioritizing initiatives for marginalized identities and ensuring access to necessary data is crucial for their full participation in critical climate talks. 

There are successful youth-led climate initiatives that have been underrepresented in global climate discussions including:


  • Youth-Led Innovation Fighting Climate Change: This effort focuses on the role of youth-led innovation in combating climate change, which is underappreciated and understudied, particularly in national contexts.

  • UNICEF's Youth for Climate Action: UNICEF has been elevating young people's voices to protect the planet's future, raising youth voices on the climate catastrophe, and expanding youth participation in climate action.

  • Youth-Led Research and Advocacy: More research and advocacy on the role of youth in combating climate change are required. This includes conducting large-scale studies among youth about climate change knowledge and their possible role in climate action.

  • Funding Youth-Led Climate Initiatives: Youth-led climate justice programs continue to be badly underfunded, and there is a strong case to be made for increased philanthropic funding in youth-led climate action.

  • Youth in Action Summit: The Youth Climate Action Summit brought together youth climate champions from more than 140 nations and territories to present their ideas on a global scale, emphasizing young people's innovative and effective work in addressing climate change.


YOUTH REPRESENTATION AT COP28


Examining youth participation in COP conferences

Youth participation in COP conferences has been a growing priority in recent years, as it is crucial to incorporate diverse perspectives and ensure that the voices of future leaders are heard in climate decision-making processes. Some examples of youth participation in COP conferences include:


  • COP28, a Youth Stock side event was held at the Bonn Climate Change Conference (SB58) to assess challenges and opportunities to enhance youth inclusion in climate negotiations

  • COP28 International Youth Climate Delegates Program is an initiative for selected 100 young people for COP28, with 74% representing least-developed countries and small-island developing states. The program aims to expand and empower youth inclusion in the multilateral climate process through capacity-building and participation in key climate events.

  • Throughout 2023, the COP28 Presidency includes youth and children in all significant climate policy meetings, including the critical Pre-COP Ministerial in Abu Dhabi. YOUNGO members discussed numerous major topic areas stated in the Global Youth Statement with Her Excellency Shamma Al Mazrui, the Youth Climate Champion for COP28.

  • Since COP11/CMP1, youth have hosted pre-conferences known as Conferences of Youth before each meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Climate Change. These gatherings let young people actively participate in the COP process and participate in discussions.


Showcasing youth delegates and their contributions

Denmark's Youth Climate Council: The ministry works with the Youth Climate Council consisting of various youth organizations, which gathers information from all over the nation and presents specific policy suggestions to their minister. Every year, the group holds talks with the climate minister of Denmark to advise them on the issues concerning Danish youths.

They also involve themselves in external activities to get feedback from youths and spread messages on climate actions.


Youngo is a global organization of youth representing its members at United Nations Climate Change Conferences where they make their official statements during negotiations and meet with relevant political leaders. The importance of youth inclusion in climate debates and promotion of youth involvement cannot be overemphasized, and hence they are key actors on this front.


As forums approach, some UN youth delegates give presentations on parts of their delegations’ work as part of preparatory processes that take place before national-level follow-up and review activities which underlie their 2030 agenda. The UN offers opportunities for youth delegates to attend some of the Intergovernmental meetings like the General Assembly and specialized agencies.


Analyzing the effectiveness of youth involvement in shaping climate policies

Some scholars assert that children’s involvement would benefit climate policy, citing distinct viewpoints and immediacy. These barriers are low availability, lack of resources and only token participation. Despite all these issues, youth-led initiatives including Fridays For Futures and the Sunrise Movement efficiently bring attention, create a positive sentiment in people’s minds and affect policy makers’ decisions. 


The successful initiatives focus on the promotion of renewable energy and also highlight how climate change affects sensitive zones. Meaningful participation, which incorporates provisions that ensure inclusion, resource availability, and recognition of youth’s perspective, is fundamental to the success of youth-led climate action during the policy-making process.


INNOVATIONS AND SOLUTIONS PROPOSED BY YOUTH



Showcasing youth-led innovations in climate technology 

UNICEF and global accelerator program which aims to give spotlight on climate action to younger individuals aged 30 and below. This is a solution-driven climate change program that lifts up global youth diversity as actors towards addressing climate change threats. UNICEF seeks to enable more scaling up of youth-led climate innovation breakthroughs to ensure that every child and community in all corners of the world benefit. 




Two of these promising climate solutions were SAGES – a project which converts food waste into biodegradable dyes and E-Cover – a solution developed out of recycled plastic to produce eco-friendly book covers. Such inventions demonstrate that youth-led climate projects are innovative, and effective and have had a significant impact in creating awareness of climate issues and in curbing the effects of climate change.


There were nine youth-driven environmental innovations at the World Economic Forum. They participated in the youth climate action challenge involving innovative approaches to environmental issues. The issues displayed in these innovations covered diverse aspects of the climate problems and showcased success from youth-generated efforts.


A global initiative that encourages youth participation in climate action by promoting innovative methods of addressing climate change. For example, the organizing partners include Climate Kids and Uplink by the World Economic Forum. The students are led to discover and evaluate the impacts of climate change within their vicinity. Through teamwork working they look into solutions as well as climatic change strategies, which they will adopt within their area of engagement. This challenge provides materials that will help students involved in the Youth Climate Action Challenge. These include program videos, and lesson plans among other learning materials to help them learn about the various climate threats and how to manage them.


The UNDP’s Youth4Climate Innovation Contest showed that involving youth in mitigating climate change is helpful. It revealed new ideas of importance with the possibility of use in other regions. The competition forms a part of the larger Youth4Climate undertaking whereby young people are encouraged around the world to utilize their knowledge and innovation in dealing with the climate emergency. It comprises mentorship, advocacy support, and networking opportunities aligned to the four key thematic areas like Climate Education, Energy, Food and Agriculture, and Urban Development. This contest demonstrates various promising ideas involving youth in tackling global warming.


Discussing youth-driven solutions for climate resilience

This includes youth-centred climate resilience solutions to tackle climate change effects.

  • UNICEF's Youth for Climate Action: This campaign is designed to bring young people’s voices out in climate education, Disaster Risk Reduction, and Recovery for protection of the earth’s futuristic state.

  • YES Resilience: UNC Institute for the Environment Solutions: The Solutions assist informal educators and diverse youth by providing locally appropriate climate resilience solutions including risks such as excess heat, extreme precipitation, and sea level rise.

  • International Day of Climate Change: The movement was founded by young people alarmed over climate change and international inequities, focusing on collective youth climate actions towards a better future.

  • Volunteering in the Community: Young Individuals make an important contribution through affiliation with organizations, taking part in community-based volunteer projects as well as engaging in climate activities within the neighbourhoods of the community.


CHALLENGES AND OPPORTUNITIES

Addressing obstacles faced by youth advocates at COP28

To empower young advocates at COP28:


  • Training and Workshops: Develop skill and knowledge-building programs that can empower individuals with active participation in the policy-making process, and also enable citizens to navigate their way through international climate conferences.

  • Financial Support: Provide enough money that will cater for accommodation, food and traveling expenses for the youth activists ensuring that inclusion is across different backgrounds and countries.

  • Recognition in Communication: Include young activists’ contributions in official COP-28 documents, press releases, and communication tools to build more activism among youth.

  • Youth-Centric Activities: Providing meaningful side events, workshops, and activities that focus on the views and concerns of youth advocates and are duly considered by everyone concerned.

  • Collaboration Opportunities: Create partnerships among youth activists, government delegates, NGOs, and other stakeholders supporting youth-driven climate interventions.


Addressing the areas allows for COP 28 to build an enabling environment that appreciates the input by the youth advocates towards the formulation of climate policies and action.


Analyzing the role of youth in bridging generational gaps in climate action

Young people are important in closing intergeneration climate communication gap. Using passion and Idealism, they become effective advocates and urge the older generation to change their attitude towards the environment. Their use of technology gives them an advantage to spread news, conduct campaigns and make suggestions that connect people across different generations.


It is their fresh perspective on the existing environmental issues as well as unorthodox technological approaches that help in creating new tools for fighting climate change. The youth have an ardent concern for the impacts of global warming on future development.


Youth fosters intergenerational communication, builds a basis for understanding each other, and enables various generations to work together to develop lasting solutions concerning the planet’s well-being. Sustainable behaviours among adolescents can influence the actions of older people. For instance, some environment-conscious decisions made by the youth such as buying, transporting, way of life etc., could be an example to others. 


This entails ensuring that youth participate in politics to determine climate-related policies. Through involvement in electoral processes, promotion of environmentally friendly policy issues, and holding political leaders responsible youth can affect political change.


SUCCESS STORIES AND INSPIRATIONAL NARRATIVES


Showcasing success stories of youth-led climate initiatives

Several youth-based climate initiatives aimed at sensitizing, mobilizing and bringing about a good change towards the war against climate change.


  • Fridays for Future: Fridays for Future is an international youth movement that demands emergency measures against climate change. The movement was initiated by Greta Thunberg when she started striking out of school every Friday in 2018 and motivated students to join them weekly on climate strikes. Climate scientists point out that current action needs to take account of their worst-case scenarios. Fridays for the Future changed the public attitude of governments about climate change and their policy decisions. The most prominent character in the movement is Greta Thunberg who has been popularly recognized as a world climate advocate and delivered great speeches at various rallies and meetings with world leaders in their respective countries in an attempt to instigate prompt action against global warming.

  • Sunrise Movement: There is a US-based youth political movement known as the Sunrise which campaigns for urgent response to climate change and social equality. However, the movement became famous in 2017 when it proposed a Green New Deal to alleviate issues related to climate change. The Sunrise Movement which was founded by young activists focuses on justice, equity, and combating climate change by eliminating systemic injustices. The core of Sunrise Movement’s agenda is the Green New Deal which emphasizes investing greatly in renewable energy, energy efficiency as well and infrastructure. Providing jobs for millions of people while at the same time weaning the economy off the use of fossil fuels. The movement has been able to grow across chapters within America because it effectively brings up the youth into action. Although no Green New Deal resolution was adopted in the US Congress, the Sunrise Movement helped initiate a national debate on the implementation of overall environmental and economic policies.


Emphasizing the importance of continuing to amplify youth voices in climate discussions


Therefore, it is important to amplify youth voices during climate discussions for several reasons. First, climate change affects more youth than any other group. Future generations will be impacted by these decisions now. In addition, kids provide fresh views, ingenious notions, and an impetus that can result in innovative green alternatives. Last but not least, involving youth in climate change action can spur others into taking action too but also to increase attention and recognition of this problem among others. Lastly, they are tomorrow's leaders and ensuring that they can take part meaningfully in climate talks is necessary for a better future.


Research shows that children have already seen what climate change looks like and want to do something about it. According to another study, 95.5% agree that human activities cause global warming and youth may be key players in combating this crisis. Further research established that discussing climate change can increase knowledge and concern and that young people can have a great impact through communicating with adults as well as challenging them to action now.


The Sunrise Movement and CliMates are youth-led organizations which have made major contributions towards encouraging climate action and fighting for the need for a radical change in politics. The organizations have managed to raise climate change consciousness across the globe and force governments and policymakers to take measures that would address the climate crisis. climate action.


It is imperative ultimately that kids’ voices are boosted in climate discussions for the sake of developing a new world. Youths can take part in promoting climate action whereby they enhance public awareness, spur other people’s activities, and lobby for political change. It is imperative that policymakers and other actors engage young people, listen, and encourage them to actively participate in developing a bright future for climate action.


CONCLUSION

The COP28 Presidency intends to increase young engagement and voice in climate policymaking.

It is critical to bring to light the growing impact of youth in climate action, particularly regarding the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28). It underlines the importance of COP28 as a platform for world leaders and stakeholders to solve the climate problem, and that youth participation is critical in generating effective solutions. The article emphasizes that while young people bear the brunt of the repercussions of climate change, their viewpoints and innovative potential must be leveraged. It highlights a variety of successful youth-led projects, such as UNICEF's Young for Climate Action program, that provide chances for youth activism.


Importantly, the text acknowledges youth as critical change agents in areas such as technology, education, justice, and lifestyle choices. Their climate advocacy has influenced popular narratives and government positions. As a result, active, solution-oriented participation of different youth voices is critical to driving change. This article investigates major COP28 discussion topics such as carbon reductions, climate adaptation finance, renewable energy transitions, loss and damage, and climate justice. It examines how these agenda items correlate with young concerns about intergenerational collaboration, capacity building, youth-led solutions, digital participation, and vulnerable community representation.


It also looks at the challenges that young advocates confront, such as a lack of access, resources, and tokenistic engagement. It offers techniques such as capacity building, financial support, dedicated events, and cross-collaboration to encourage meaningful youth participation. Overall, it emphasizes the importance of youth as important players in global climate action, bringing new perspectives, climate justice principles, innovation, and a feeling of urgency. It advocates for the active inclusion of various young voices and highlights significant youth-led activities as models for achieving advancement.


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