Climate Talks, Youth Empowerment

Youth and the COP negotiations: How can young people challenge climate change?

This article is written by Pierre Manenti.

Youth involvement in the UN decision-making process has a strong and quite long history, back to the 1980s when the UN General Assembly and its Secretary General Kurt Waldheim (1972-1981) asked national governments to include youth delegates in their delegations. Regarding the issue of climate change, young people had early stood up for a sustainable transformation of our societies toward greener and low-carbon models. Indeed, since 1999 and the Bonn COP5, following the reinforcement of the role of civil societies in the international climate negotiations, youth has insured its position as a inevitable interlocutor of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Photo: Nicolas Pinceloup.
Photo: Nicolas Pinceloup.

YOUNGO

Yet, young people are not only delivering a unique and monolithic speech but are on the contrary developing different positions regarding their own national and regional interests so it took several years to find a common position.  In 2005, during Montreal COP11, young people from all around the world gathered for the first time to set up preparatory meetings called “Conferences of Youth” (COY) in order to strengthen their participation to the climate negotiations. Four years later, in 2009, during the Copenhagen COP15, the UNFCCC secretariat officially granted a provisional constituency status to the youth non-governmental organizations under the name of YOUNGO. For the first time ever, worldwide youth challenged climate change with one single voice.

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