The International Conference of Youth on Climate Change (COY14) is the meeting point of young people coming from all over the world, individuals who are involved in their communities’ development aware of the environmental dangers, determined and ready to act daily to improve the current situation. The Conference is organised by YOUNGO, the official youth constituency at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). At the COY14, we had the opportunity to meet and chat with Luz Favilene, who is part of YOUNGO. She is Argentinian and, within the youth organization, she is the voice of the Fondación TerraVida which promotes projects about environmental education. The foundation is a partner of our Youth Press Agency.
What is your role in YOUNGO and what is YOUNGO’s role at the COY14?
You can be part of YOUNGO in three different ways. First, you can become an activist. Second, you can be involved with communication. Third, you can try to shape environmental policies. I chose this last way to be a YOUNGO member. The organization is divided into working groups, each of which is specialized in a field such as agriculture, gender equity, and so on. My group is the eighth and its area of intervention is education on climate change as it is shaped by Article 12 of the Paris Agreement. But right now, I am trying to be more committed and knowledgeable on the topic of environmental finance. YOUNGO’s role at the COY is to make people aware of how international bureaucratic procedures work, how young people can influence the decision-making processes, how they can interact with the UNFCCC.
Can you tell us your experience at the Local COY (L-COY) that you have organised in Argentina?
The whole event was a very significant experience, very interesting and challenging, but I was very satisfied. It was the second L-COY organised in Argentina and the first one that took place in a city which was not the capital Cordoba. This detail is very important to me, as it is the first meeting centred on climate change which was not held in Buenos Aires, the main place where usually cultural and social relevant events are promoted. It was a unique opportunity to make people aware of the danger in which our ecosystem is, to involve the civil society in the defence of nature, and to introduce to them YOUNGO.
How did young Argentinians react to the L-COY?
Youngsters participate partially because they do not know much about climate change. Indeed, schools do not talk enough about the issue. The ones that do it more frequently are the environmental organizations – but they are not very much.I do not think the problem here is young people’s fear to state their opinion: I believe it is the lack of knowledge about climate change and its consequences that drastically reduces the number of young activists.
When did you get to know about climate change? How did your interest in the topic start?
It started while I was writing my master thesis in International Relations. I was a bit lost, because you can research so many things when you study International Relations. But then, I started to deepen the environmental issues and I became very passionate about them.
What can the COY14 and COP24 bring in Katowice, considering the environmental situation of the city?
I hope the Conferences will make citizens aware of climate change. I have seen banners and posters on the topic all over the city. The citizens could become more open and involved in the improvement of their environment, they could change their approach to environmental problems.
Is this your first International COY?
No, this is my second COY. And it will also be my second COP. So, this is my third time being present to a Conference which deals with climate change.
Can you evaluate the COY in Katowice?
I could not participate in many workshops and listen to many conferences. I was very busy working with YOUNGO. I am a bit sorry about that. Every year, the COY is an opportunity for young people to confront with each other, to get in touch with other environmental projects scattered all over. And this are always positive feedbacks.
What are your future plans?
Thinking about Argentina we, the environmental organisations, would like to multiply our projects of environmental education – and not only in the country, but also in other countries.As far as YOUNGO is concerned, the next two years will be very intense because the UN Agreement on Climate Change is going to be re-negotiated.