Here at COP22 young movements and NGO play a huge role, and an example of this has already been the demonstration by SustainUS we have reported about. On the 10th of November, here in the blue zone it was indeed Young and Future Generations Day and the average age has never been so low here at the United Nations. What better day then to get to know a little bit better some of the young actors here in Marrakech?
First of all we met Elizabeth Dirth, from Glasgow, Chair of 2050 Scotland’s Youth Climate Group. The Group, created about two years ago, aims to educate and train under-30 students and young professionals to be the Scottish leaders of tomorrow, with a special point of view into climate policy. Indeed it is not addressed only to people already operating in a climate science contest, but to a wide range of specialisations. In particular, this organisation promoted a Young leaders development programme: the first edition just ended and saw the participation of 120 Scottish young people, after receiving 200 candidatures for it from the only Scotland.
This high demand, however, made the 2050 Group able to choose an assemble of applicants as diverse as possible. The goal was not only to create awareness and educate, but also to take immediate action into climate preservation: each participant was in fact given a little challenge to fulfil in their common life. As Elizabeth underlined, fundamental “was also being part of the transition instead of just learning.” After hosting an event in green zone during day one of COP, the Group is now trying to make the best out of this experience, knowing that “you need people in politics who understand the climate issue better.”
We got then the opportunity, and after knowing her better I can easily say the honour, to meet Yugratna Srivastava, member of the NGO Plant for the Planet. Indeed, Yugratna is not only a very active young Indian woman, but quite an inspiring one, given that she addressed the United Nations General Assembly in 2009 at the age of 13, making her the youngest person to have ever done this so far. “Plant for the Planet”, the NGO she is part of, is a Germany-based organization which promotes the planting of trees around the world, raising awareness among children and youth. After the 2009 campaign Stop talking start planting, the NGO is currently raising funds for new trees selling fair trade and carbon-neutral chocolate in Germany: since April 2016 they have planted trees in Mexico with a rate of 80 trees per day, estimating to reach 1 million planted trees in December. T
hey’re also involved with children’s climate education, organising one-day workshops, called “academies” around the world. The organisation is in fact present in 56 countries around the globe, equally distributed in the five continents. “Plant for the Planet” is attending this Marrakech COP to focus in particular on mitigation, loss and damage, energy revolution, intergenerational equity and climate justice. Yugratna declares herself glad that the Paris Agreement was achieved and is already into force, because “at least they have now something to talk about.” “Maybe it’s not possible to do everything right now, but there’s still something to do. I’m an activist, but I believe in negotiations and dialogue,” she added. The NGO also promoted an action, planting trees in the middle of COP’s venue.
Finally, we sat with Federica Pastore and Lina Rodriguez, members of the Italian Climate Network. This NGO, five years old, aims to raise awareness about climate change in the civil society. That is why, in Italy, it collaborates with different actors: most recently it started collaborating with factories, offering advice and support in making production greener. But the main presence on the Italian territory is in schools, where they enter into the classes to show the impact of climate change in sectors like health, human rights, diplomatic negotiations and waste disposal. Present at COP since COP17 in Durban, the ICN was one of the main promoters of the inclusion of the principle of intergenerational equityin the Paris Agreement. It is now here in Marrakech to dialogue with other NGOs and gather ideas in order to “try to educate as many people as possible and make them aware that something has to be done”.
These are just example of the many young groups and NGO here in Marrakech. Sure, this gives quite some hope towards a greener future.