YOUNGO – the official constituency representing the Youth in the UNFCCC- aims at making young voices heard, also through the important statement that will be presented in Glasgow during COP26.
By Ilaria Bionda | YPA Italy
YOUNGO is the civil society constituency of the UNFCCC (United Nation Framework Convention of Climate Change) officially representing the Youth. It is a network of youth non-governmental organisations gathering young people up to 35 years old. Its history begins in 1992 when, during the United Nations Conference on the Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro, the willingness to create a section including children and young people was declared. However, the possibility to participate in the COPs as observers opened up to youth in 2009 only.
An empowered youth is the main vision of YOUNGO, with the primary aim of bringing young people to sit at the decision-making tables, being not only heard, but taken into real consideration. Therefore, the mission of YOUNGO concerns awareness, knowledge, capacity building, youth action, collaboration, cooperation, and the creation of networks. Three important concepts to describe it are a flat structure, consensus and equal voice. In general, it is a very open network which nowadays includes more than 1,000 Youth Organisations and NGOs and more than 10,000 individuals.
During COP26, YOUNGO – in particular in the day dedicated to Youth, Friday 5th of November – is presenting the Global Youth Statement*, a collective climate policy document including young voices, and which was drafted during the 16th Conference Of Youth (COY) a few days before the beginning of COP26. More in detail, this document is the result of consultations with 40,000 young people who demand world leaders to be included in national and international agendas. Inputs were collected with an approach which considered different both institutional and individual points of view, in order to ensure diversity and inclusion.
Thirteen different themes constitute the base of the statement: from underrepresented groups to energy and climate finance, from sustainable consumption and production to wildlife and ocean conservation, from food and agriculture to sustainable cities and communities, up to mobility and health. In this document, YOUNGO describes problems and provides perspectives and solutions to the big issues of Climate Change from a youth perspective, highlighting issues and considerations of the new generations.
Among other themes, climate justice is at the core of the statement and is strictly connected with Human Rights, which should be respected, protected, fulfilled and promoted in all climate actions. The statement asks to acknowledge the fact that impacts of climate change affect people in different ways, and no one should be left behind. This theme can be considered as a container for those instances that are usually unheard or not taken into the same consideration as others, but which are influenced and at the same time influence the direction of climate change: climate migrations and the consequent issue of refugees, equality in access to basic services, vulnerability of minorities, war and conflicts, gender equality, indigenous knowledge and rights.We, as young people attending COP26 as observers, hope and believe that this statement will reach the world leaders and convince them that young generations are the future of our Planet and that their voices must be heard.