Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Youth delegates play an active role at the Climate Change Negotiations in Cancun

This year at the Conference of Parties United Nations Climate Change Negotiations (COP-16) in Cancun (November 29 to December 10) not only marked important agreements on addressing climate change, but also major increases in the visibility and magnitude of youth participation. It’s exciting to see so many young people gain the opportunity to voice their opinions on global issues at such an important event. Here are some of the highlights for youth participation at this event:


Youth delegations have actively participated in conference proceedings as a unified coalition called the YOUNGO constituency, which represents all youth NGOs at the talks. As a constituency within the UNFCCC framework YOUNGO is given office space at the conference and has opportunities to participate by attending workshops, delivering statements, asking questions, and holding meetings with officials.

One of YOUNGO's most important achievements at COP16 was the coordination of the Conference of Youth. Youth concerned about climate change met in the three days prior to the climate talks for the 6th annual Conference of Youth (COY), which served as “a place for youth to help empower a global climate movement, and to prepare their strategies for bringing this movement to the UN climate negotiations.” Together the participants hoped to pressure delegates into agreeing upon solutions through lobbying, demonstrating and direct action. Youth delegates met in groups, attended workshops by climate change NGOs, and planned collaborative actions for the climate negotiations. With 500 young people in attendance, the Conference of Youth helped solidify the importance of youth to the outcomes at COP16.

Young and Future Generations Day

December 2 at COP16 was given the official designation of Young and Future Generations Day (YoFuGe).
This day called to attention the critical importance of the climate change negotiations in shaping the future for youth worldwide. Youth participants wore t-shirts bearing the phrase, "You have been negotiating my whole life - you cannot tell me you need more time," a quote from a 17 year-old from the Solomon Islands at COP15 in Copenhagen.

US-China Youth Climate Exchange

The US-China Youth Climate Exchange partners young people from both countries to promote cooperation between the nations. As the two largest emitters of carbon, the United States and China are the most important countries at the climate negotiations and their ability to cooperate is of paramount importance. Members of the US-China Youth Climate Exchange encouraged negotiators from each country to stop blaming each other and focus on collaboration.

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