UN Climate Change News, 12 August 2022 – Today marks International Youth Day. Under the theme of “Intergenerational Solidarity: Creating a World for All Ages”, it aims to raise awareness about the action needed across all generations to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – including the increasingly important goal on climate action - and leave no one behind.
Young people will suffer the consequences and bear the costs of inaction on the climate crisis. But children and youth are determined not to simply be victims of climate change and have discovered their massive potential to hold decision-makers accountable.
“Youth is on the frontline when it comes to facing the impacts of the climate change challenges in the long-term,” said Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary of UN Climate Change. “The young generation is a generation that has grown up with climate change and which is rightly demanding intergenerational solidarity and inclusion of their asks in policymaking. The younger generation are also effective agents of change, often taking the lead in addressing this planetary crisis and spearheading climate movements worldwide.”
Ensuring that the youth voice is heard loud and clear is also one of the objectives of the incoming COP 27 Egyptian Presidency. With the appointment of Dr. Omnia Omrani as the official COP27 Youth Envoy, the COP27 Presidency provided a clear signal that young voices must be heard in the run-up to, during and beyond COP27.
Having heard the priorities and concerns of youth representatives over the past few months, the incoming Presidency has decided to hold a stand-alone Youth and Future Generations Day at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November to engage youth and ensure that their perspectives are taken on board and reflected across all areas of the climate agenda. The day will provide an opportunity to showcase youth success stories and challenges and will allow for interaction with policymakers and practitioners.
"As the first-ever Envoy on Youth for the COP27 President, I aim to break down the siloes between policymakers and young climate advocates by curating meaningful participatory opportunities and intergenerational dialogues at the Youth and Future Generations Day and beyond,” said Dr. Omrani. “This COP will deliver a qualitative shift in the critical role of youth as equal and natural partners to the global climate agenda from Egypt, with its long tradition of commitment to youth empowerment."
UN Climate Change is working hard to foster meaningful youth engagement under the UNFCCC process, especially by working closely with the official youth observer constituency, YOUNGO.
In 2022 alone, three flagship initiatives – Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE) Hub, Youth4Capacity programme and Academy of Global Youth Leadership Empowerment (AGYLE) – were launched or renewed to accelerate capacity-building and participation of youth in the international climate change process. Activities including the ACE Youth Exchange, ACE Hackathon, and multiple in-person and virtual events have been carried out or are planned to take place throughout the year.
Countries also dedicated the annual ACE dialogue, held on 7 June 2022 during the Bonn Climate Change Conference to discuss how to engage children and youth in promoting climate action. More than 150 participants from governments and civil society, including youth representatives, joined the dialogue to share good practices and exchange ideas.
The dialogue provided an invaluable opportunity for participants to identify and raise awareness on age-related barriers in various spheres of people’s lives, such as education, employment, access to public participation and justice.
In facing the challenges of climate change, it was highlighted that young people can act as bridges to other generations. Intergenerational solidity that can empower everyone to effectively engage in climate action means meaningful youth engagement at all stages of decision-making and partnerships with youth as experts and solutions-providers, not just as beneficiaries and solutions-receivers.
Background information on ACE
Intergenerational equity and solidarity lie at the heart of the Convention and the Paris Agreement and, in particular, in its article 6 and article 12 respectively, commonly known as Action for Climate Empowerment (ACE). The overarching goal of ACE is to empower all members of society across all walks of life to engage in climate action through education and public awareness, training, public participation and access to information, and international cooperation in these matters.